THE loss of coach and hotel firm Specialist Leisure Group, which included National Holiday and Shearings, will be felt across the Isle of Wight.

That is the view of Visit Isle of Wight managing director Will Myles, who this week said the collapse was a 'great shame for the UK tourism industry'.

As reported on Friday, the group entered administration.

It includes Bay Hotels which owns the Broadway Park Hotel in Melville Street, Sandown — one of the town's biggest and most well-established hotels.

Mr Myles said: "It is a great shame for the UK tourism industry that Specialist Leisure Group is in administration.

"The loss of SLG will be felt across many different parts of the Isle of Wight, from the hotel staff that may lose their jobs, to the large attractions and the small businesses that rely on coaches bringing people to their door.

"It is important to remember that many of these coach tour operators bring visitors to the Isle of Wight throughout the year, not just in the summer months, which provides a vital year round income for many businesses.

"I hope that the hole left by SLG can be filled by smaller innovative operators, who will see the benefit of bringing visitors here to enjoy the beauty of the Isle of Wight and, importantly, help provide Islanders with employment."

The news came on the day the County Press exclusively interviewed Isle of Wight Tours about the plight of the coach tour industry.

Geoff Holt, Isle of Wight Tours manager, is calling on the government to class the industry as a leisure one, which means vital business rates and grant schemes can be applied for.