Yes Minister: Back our call for a tourism champion in government

Travel Weekly this week sets out its key demand for the forthcoming general election – that the incoming government must create a senior ministerial post for the tourism industry.

What goes on in the corridors of Whitehall might seem far removed from most of our readers’ everyday jobs, but we believe that too many decisions are taken without considering the impact on our industry.

A long list of issues that affect your clients, and therefore you, are in the hands of politicians, precious few of whom spend much time focusing on the travel industry.

Environmental taxes and regulations, customer financial protection, training and development, airport security and expansion will all shape the future of this sector and your working lives.

Next week, Abta will launch its first manifesto in the House of Lords and included among its demands will be that a ministerial post dedicated to tourism is created.

The association estimates it has to deal with no fewer than eight different departments when it lobbies government, and that is before it starts to deal with legislators in Europe.

This week, Travel Weekly spoke exclusively to non-executive Abta board member Lord Norman Fowler, the former Conservative minister for employment, which then included tourism.

He believes the millions of jobs associated with the industry spread across the UK makes it a key industry for the economy and one that is worthy of its place at the core of any government.

He said as well as the industry presenting its demands clearly to government, ideally through one strong trade organisation, having a dedicated minister was also essential to achieving results.

“The most fundamental thing for any new government is that we should have a minister for tourism who is recognised and who has that as his or her absolute number one job,” he said.

“Without that you get proposals going through without proper consideration. These proposals could cause problems for the industry that might not be flagged up.

“There has never been a more important time. The tourist industry in all its guises employs something like 2.7 million people, that’s a huge number, but it also represents an enormous pool of jobs at a time when they are scarce.

“There is everything to be said for the government giving priority to the tourism industry and underlining that it’s a very important industry that needs to be taken seriously, which must be taken seriously, and one that’s fundamentally of benefit to the British public.”

Over the coming weeks Travel Weekly will be asking all the main political parties if they agree that the industry needs its own dedicated senior minister.


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