14 Jul

Influencing policy in a time of political turmoil

Politics feels anything but usual at the moment. Mass resignations including that of the Prime Minister, and an extremely open Conservative Party leadership contest, have dominated the headlines. You might be forgiven for thinking it will be difficult to influence policy makers in that environment.

ABTA’s public affairs work, though, has continued unabated, as there is still much which can be done before a new government takes shape. Through speaking with policy advisers and civil servants, as well as elected politicians, we are continuing to represent Members and the needs of the travel sector. To give some current examples:

  • This week, I attended a meeting and debate hosted by the Industry and Parliament Trust on the future of tourism post-Covid. A wide-ranging discussion among parliamentarians and others in the travel sector looked at the needs of our industry and how we’re placed for the summer peak season.
  • I also met Ivan McKee MSP, who is Business and Tourism Minister in the Scottish Government, to discuss travel industry priorities. It’s vitally important that we influence all governments in the four nations, and the meeting with Mr McKee was part of our ongoing work to ensure that Scottish Government hears what we have to say.
  • Equally, we may have left the EU but we still need to influence its policies where these continue to affect Members.  This week the team met Lord Kinnoull, who chairs the Lords European Affairs Committee, discussing among other topics the issue of labour mobility between the UK and EU.
  • ABTA also has monthly meetings with officials at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – working with our strong contacts there to flag issues for the travel sector and discuss how, collectively, they might be resolved.

Coming back to the race to be our next Prime Minister, once the candidates are whittled down to the last two – one of whom will hold power – we will make contact to ensure both are aware of the unique circumstances the travel sector has been in, and how government can best support you in the future. Once a new government is in place, we will also engage early with newly appointed Ministers to make sure they understand the priorities of the travel industry.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive