Former MP Rory Stewart to speak at The Travel Convention

Former Conservative MP Rory Stewart and consultant and author Christine Armstrong will be among the keynote speakers at The Travel Convention in October, Abta has confirmed.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer revealed the first speakers for the event in Morocco this week, saying: “I’m very pleased Rory Stewart, former soldier, diplomat, politician and traveller, will be speaking. It will be interesting to get his take on the geopolitical situation and the impact of current events. A former member of the cabinet, we’ll also get his view on the UK political scene.”

Stewart was a Tory MP from 2010 to 2019, a minister from 2016-19 and a candidate for the party leadership in 2019. Prior to that he served as a solder, a diplomat, spent two years walking around Asia, was a deputy governor in Iraq following the 2003 war, and has produced several books and documentaries, including Afghanistan: The Great Game.

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Armstrong is the author of The Mother of all Jobs, on work and motherhood, and will talk about hybrid working, attracting and retaining talent, and how to lead.

Tanzer said: “We’re all aware of the changed work environment coming out of Covid. Christine will bring insights into how to adjust to new working patterns.”

Between them, Stewart and Armstrong will tackle two of the biggest issues confronting the sector – its relations with government and the chronic shortage of staff, which has brought criticism from ministers.

Tanzer said: “It’s rich for the government to criticise the industry for being short of resources when it cut off all support way before it lifted the travel restrictions. The government created the pressure that led businesses to let people go, and we told them what was going to happen. Now they say, ‘Why don’t you have more people?’”

James Thornton, chief executive of Intrepid Travel, one of the convention’s headline sponsors, will also address delegates.

Tanzer said: “Intrepid is in about 40 countries. Given that global spread, it will be interesting to hear what changes James sees in different parts of the world.”

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