MP calls on Cameron to review scrapping of tourism minister role
DAVID Cameron is being urged to rethink scrapping a dedicated ministerial post for tourism in his reshuffle amid warnings it would damage the industry vital to Torbay's economy.
The front bench revamp saw John Penrose, who had held the role since 2010, sacked as a result of his department being made smaller.
His duties have been transferred to the portfolio of Sports Minister Hugh Robertson.
It is feared the move will see tourism slip down the policy agenda and see it struggle to attract funding support.
Holiday Home FOR SALE in Brixham, South Devon £2500 OFF any Regal...View details
Holiday Home FOR SALE IN BRIXHAM WITH SEA VIEWS over looking St. Mary's Bay beach. Come and take a look today. ONE WEEK ONLY. Facilities on site. Pools, Ents, Club, Shop. Quiet park with stunning area
Terms: Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or with a P/X on park. Come and take a look today and own your own part of South Devon. For allot less than you can imagine!! Letting permitted
Contact: 01803 220485
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
The Government had heralded the creation of a dedicated tourism minister on coming to office as evidence it was taking seriously the fifth biggest industry in the UK, which contributes around £115billion a year to the economy.
It argued it had not been given sufficient priority by the previous Labour administration.
The latest changes have been seen as a setback for the sector, which employs more than 2.5 million people and in busy resorts like Torbay accounts for around a third of all jobs.
Torbay MP Adrian Sanders has written to the Prime Minister, urging him to review the situation and give tourism more prominence in Government policy.
He said: "The Government's decision puts tourism even further down the list of priorities.
"For such a vital industry, with many uniquely cross-cutting issues from transport to immigration to consider, this can only be a bad sign for economies such as Torbay that rely heavily on visitors."
The Government has previously insisted that tourism was a key growth area and vital to efforts to rebalance the economy.
However, its plans for the industry have run into difficulties.
A proposal to move the traditional May Day bank holiday which could have extended the tourism season and netted Torbay a late economic boom was quietly ditched.
Shifting the public break had been a centrepiece of Government plans unveiled amid great fanfare last year to boost the visitor industry.
The Government also backtracked over a bid to move the clocks forward an hour which promised a further boost to the sector.
It is estimated that longer evenings would increase tourism revenues by up to £4billion in the UK, and create tens of thousands of jobs.
Torbay Labour councillor Darren Cowell has written to Torbay's mayor Gordon Oliver asking him to write to the Prime Minister urging him to re-instate a Minister for Tourism.
Cllr Cowell said: "I find it incredibly short-sighted that the Prime Minister has seen such an important post as unnecessary.
"The sector accounts for over £2billion of our economy in Devon and Cornwall and provides opportunities for growth — yet the Conservatives have scrapped the post.
"I hope that now the Olympics are over, the Government will not fail to build upon the opportunities they presented.
"The London 2012 games were always about their legacy — not just for sport, but economic opportunities — especially tourism.
"I have written to the mayor asking him to seek reassurances from the Government that they are not downgrading their commitment to tourism and that a Minister for Tourism should be re-appointed.
Cllr Cowell added: "As the Conservative mayor is renowned for his support of the industry, I am hoping he will accept my request and write to the Prime Minister."