12 Mar

ABTA gives qualified welcome to Conservative support for the travel industry

ABTA welcomed comments by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP today in a speech in Blackpool, in which he promised support for domestic tourism but the Association was disappointed at a lack of concrete proposals for the outbound sector.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said “These supportive comments from the Shadow Chancellor for domestic tourism are very welcome. Domestic and inbound tourism is the backbone of the UK tourism sector but we would also like to see how the Conservatives will approach outbound tourism. Outbound tourism is not a marginal policy area. Last year over 60 million trips abroad were made by Britons meaning this is an area that warrants serious policy consideration.”

“We would like to see concrete proposals backing up the five point plan raised in ABTA’s Travel Manifesto to help ensure a successful future for all of the tourism industry, the 5th largest in the UK providing jobs for 2.7 million people”

“It is good to see the Conservatives taking issues like reform of Furnished Holiday Lettings seriously too. Issues like FHL won’t feature highly in political party broadcasts in the coming election but are critical to our sector’s financial health. Recognising the failings in the current proposals is a good step forward. ABTA is calling on the government to take similar steps in the upcoming Budget.”

Andy Cooper, Thomas Cook Director of Government and External Affairs and an ABTA Board Member who represented ABTA at the speech said “George Osborne’s speech was an important indication that tourism will be a priority for any future Conservative Government. Although outbound issues were not emphasised as strongly as domestic we are pleased that he left the door open for further reconsideration of how Air Passenger Duty works”.

ABTA’s manifesto was launched at the Houses of Parliament on 10 March 2010 and called for the following five key points to be implemented by a newly elected Government:

1. To reform consumer protection so that all holidays, flights and accommodation are protected.
2. To reform Air Passenger Duty so that airlines are incentivised to fly full planes with a fair tax contribution based not on passenger numbers but on the fuel efficiency of the aircraft and more closely aligned to the distance travelled.
3. To safeguard jobs by cutting down on red tape and other barriers to running successful businesses.
4. To increase airport capacity all across the UK, but especially in the South East of England so that we are able to meet current and future needs.
5. To create a dedicated Minister of Tourism and give a Whitehall department the lead responsibility for all three tourism sectors, domestic inbound and outbound.