The travel and tourism industry won’t grab politicians’ attention until voters harangue MPs over government policy, the head of Visit Britain said yesterday.


Speaking at a Global Tourism Forum in Andorra, Visit Britain chairman Christopher Rodrigues said: “There was a public outcry when the UK government cut the defence budget. We had angry student demonstrations when it proposed to raise university fees. But when the government raises taxes on tourism no one says a word. No one realises.”


He said the situation would not change until “people ring their MP and shout and say ‘I won’t vote for you’. We need local advocates. We have to get people to care about tourism and then shout.”


Rodrigues told the forum, organised by the UN World Tourism Organisation (WTO): “Tax is an issue that won’t go away. When finance ministers get together they talk about where they can get taxes from. The UK Treasury understands it can keep pushing at the margins [of travel] and getting more revenue.


“Tax is a jolly good way to raise money and until we get people to understand the impact we won’t get anywhere on the issue.”


Rodrigues added: “I worry governments are not creating the business environment necessary to invest. UK government spending has been severely reduced and that has hit us [at Visit Britain].” However, he said: “The travel industry works together better when times are bad.”