Opinion: Government reshuffle makes Travel Convention more important than ever

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive

The departures of transport secretary Justine Greening and tourism minister John Penrose in this week’s government reshuffle pose both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry.

They certainly leave much to discuss at next month’s Travel Convention in Turkey.

The fact that John Penrose has stood down as part of a downsizing of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and the government has no plans to replace him, is clearly a concern.

Abta chairman John McEwan has written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to ask why he has taken this step.

The association and the industry have called for and need a single minister to oversee an effective strategy for tourism.

John Penrose was an enthusiastic advocate of tourism who understood the needs and importance of the industry.

Now he has gone it is essential that whoever replaces him has the same commitment to supporting all sectors in the tourism mix – domestic, inbound and outbound.

The government has repeatedly said it sees tourism as a key driver of economic growth.

We have asked for an early meeting with the new Secretary of State for Culture, Maria Miller, to understand the government’s thinking and to ensure the industry is given the priority it deserves.

The tourism legacy of the Olympics offers an unprecedented opportunity for growth and must not be wasted.

But the contribution from all sectors of tourism – outbound, inbound and domestic – must be recognised, properly understood and supported.

Justine Greening’s removal from the Department for Transport will be the subject of much debate.

It may offer the possibility of the government finally moving forward on developing a coherent policy to address the pressing need for extra airport capacity.

There will be pressure on the new transport secretary and his colleagues in the Treasury to address the thousands of emails to ministers calling for a review of Air Passenger Duty (APD) – sent throughout the summer as part of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign.

In this context, the debate at the Travel Convention should be especially lively.

We will hear from speakers of the calibre of Tui Travel’s Johan Lundgren and Kevin Sheehan of Norwegian Cruise Lines: business people who have strong views and whose shared acumen and insights can provide invaluable guidance on how to survive and thrive in the current economic climate.

Other outstanding speakers will include Lady Penelope Cobham, chair of VisitEngland, consumer trends expert William Higham, neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield and QuBit pioneer of web technologies Graham Cooke.

The convention will benefit from being held for the first time in an all-inclusive resort. This will make it easier for delegates to get to and from sessions while enjoying the facilities at the Cornelia and Susesi hotels.

Antalya is a beautiful and historic part of Turkey and well worth exploring before or after the Convention.

However, both resorts are extremely popular and delegates must stay at one or the other to attend the Convention – so it is vital not to delay booking your accommodation.

I look forward to seeing, debating and sharing ideas with you in Turkey in less than five weeks. 

If you haven’t already booked for The Travel Convention on October 9-12, you can do so on the Travel Convention website now.

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