New tourism minister John Penrose has failed to reassure the trade that outbound travel will be an important part of his brief, despite backtracking on his diary secretary’s claim that there was “limited scope” for outbound in his role.
Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, Penrose said he felt the outbound industry had “fewer problems” than inbound.
“Others are facing a longer list. The outbound industry is one of tourism’s success stories and I would be amazed if it didn’t continue to be,” he said.
He said there was no need to put a “wedge” between the outbound and inbound industries, as many businesses had an interest in both. “I have no intention to dismiss outbound,” he added.
The tourism minister was accused of snubbing the trade earlier this month, when his diary secretary refused a meeting request from the Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito).
A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport later said there had been a “misunderstanding” and promised Penrose would meet with Aito as soon as possible.
The government’s opposition to expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted would not have a negative impact on the travel industry, he added.
“It’s not about limiting outbound tourism. It’s more about travel within the UK, and high-speed rail is a much more environmentally-friendly way of doing that.
“There will be plenty of capacity at Heathrow for flights to places like Spain or Greece.”
Penrose is working on a tourism strategy covering the entire industry and expects to reveal details of it in about two months time.