Campaign launched demanding UK minister for travel


Travolution sister title Travel Weekly has launched a campaign to demand the next government to create a senior ministerial post dedicated to the travel and tourism industry.


No official figures exist that give a definitive assessment of the size of the combined outbound, inbound and domestic tourism industry in the UK.


But the World Travel and Tourism Council has calculated that the industry is worth £135 billion a year, projected to rise to £227 billion by 2019, and accounts for almost three million jobs.


Next week Abta will launch its first manifesto ahead of the next General Election in the House of Lords, with the creation of a dedicated ministerial post one of the key demands.


The Abta board now includes former Conservative minister for employment Lord Norman Fowler as a non-executive member, and he explained why a senior minister was essential.


“The most fundamental thing for any new government is that we should have a minister for tourism who is recognised and who has that as his or her absolute number one job,” he said.


“Without that you get proposals going through without proper consideration. These proposals could cause problems for the industry that might not be flagged up.


“There has never been a more important time. The tourist industry in all its guises employs something like 2.7 million people, that’s a huge number, but it also represents an enormous pool of jobs at a time when they are scarce.


“There is everything to be said for the government giving priority to the tourism industry and underlining that it’s a very important industry that needs to be taken seriously, which must be taken seriously, and one that’s fundamentally of benefit to the British public.”


For the online travel industry having a strong voice in both domestic and UK legislators is going to be increasingly important in the coming months.


Changes to the UK Atol financial protection scheme that could bring in more online players, the European Package Travel Directive and an expected clamp down on VAT tax payable under the Tour Operators Margin Scheme are all imminent.


Many larger independent OTAs in the UK are currently mulling over calls to form a new lobbying group to put their case to government.


Travel Weekly has created a Downing Street petition for its “Yes Minister” campaign and is urging as many people working in the industry or with an interest in it to sign ahead of General Election.


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