17 Jan

Making politicians aware

Opinion polls have hit the headlines this week, as pollsters start to speculate on the outcome of the next General Election. For ABTA’s lobbying and political engagement it’s policy, not polling, that is the focus of our work – and it has been a busy start to 2024 as we continue to promote the value of the UK travel industry to the economy, and push our members’ priorities.

Our public affairs strategy sees us engage with politicians from across the political spectrum on behalf of ABTA members, which is particularly important as we head towards a General Election. 

Two focuses for us currently are ensuring the continuation of an education pathway for travel and tourism and securing important changes to labour mobility between the UK and EU for tourism roles.

This week ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs, Luke Petherbridge, spoke on both issues at a Tourism Alliance roundtable event with Barbara Keeley MP, the Labour Shadow Tourism Minister. These topics were also recently raised with the Labour Spokesperson for Education in the Lords, Baroness Twycross.

We’ve had similar discussions with the Liberal Democrat leads in the House of Commons on Transport and Climate Change, Wera Hobhouse MP, and Tourism, Jamie Stone MP. Both MPs were receptive to our views, especially on youth mobility where they have promised to raise the matter with the Minister for Countering Illegal Immigration, Michael Tomlinson KC MP. 

I also look forward to raising these matters directly with the Aviation Minister, Anthony Browne MP, when we meet at the end of the month.  

On a slightly different topic, earlier this week Luke and I had a very constructive conversation with the CAA’s Independent Review Panel investigating the failure of the NATS air traffic management system over the August bank holiday weekend last year. 

While the coverage of the incident has focused primarily on how it impacted airlines and airports, we know that ABTA members across the country went above and beyond in supporting your customers, incurring significant costs in doing so. It's important the review recognises how the incident affected all parts of the travel ecosystem, and that the final report, which is expected later this year, also makes meaningful recommendations on steps that can be taken to avoid any repeat in future.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive