Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are the key to jobs growth in the travel sector, according to an industry veteran.

Speaking in a World Travel Market seminar on how tourism can realise its growth potential, Richard Prosser, who is chairman of Audley Travel and CarTrawler, said these businesses have a huge role to play in economic development as they are the fastest growing sector.

Prosser, who used to head up Tui’s Specialist and Emerging Markets division, referring to travel giants Thomas Cook and Tui, said: “They might create employment but they won’t directly employ more people in more countries, but who will employ is SMEs. CarTrawler was a start-up and now employs 200 people in Ireland.”

At the debate David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said newly re-elected US President Obama was one of the next targets in its ‘Golden Book’ initiative, where it is aiming to meet with leaders and heads of finance in countries across the world to put across the importance of the sector.

Scowsill hit out at the UK government saying its policies on VAT, APD and visas were negatively impacting the sector.