Comment: Travel is failing the political test

TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyIndustry leaders made strenuous efforts to raise travel’s profile with politicians in advance of the election, but the party manifestos show just how far the sector still has to go.

There are very few references to travel and tourism. The Tories’ pledge to reform APD is welcome; the Liberal Democrats’ promise to replace APD but raise an extra £3 billion from flying less so. But these, alongside Tory and Lib Dem commitments to veto expansion at Heathrow and other airports, are about it.

Of course, electoral concerns drive manifesto content and other issues take prominence. But the near total absence of travel from the manifestos’ combined 266 pages is striking.

Labour’s manifesto has room to promise “protection for pubs” and “a golden decade of sport”, among 50 pledges. Several pages detail party policies on culture, media and sport – all part of the same department as tourism – without mentioning it.

The Tory manifesto does better by noting: “Because travel abroad is so important for our economy and family holidays, we need to improve our airports and reduce the environmental impact of flying.”

And the Lib Dems pledge to “require airlines to be upfront about pricing” and to “restrict aviation growth”. But that, too, is as good as it gets.

The election to date is proof, if any were needed, that travel remains on the margins at Westminster. So don’t miss the chance to add your name to Travel Weekly’s online petition for a dedicated travel and tourism minister on the Downing Street website.


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