Launching the council at the Hospitality & Tourism Summit 2014 in London yesterday (5 June), tourism minister Helen Grant MP said the council will be a ‘joint industry and government partnership’ that focuses on jobs and skills development, as well as looking at some of the regulatory issues facing the industry.
The council will be chaired by Grant, skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock MP and Hilton Worldwide EMEA president Simon Vincent. It will meet quarterly, with the first meeting due to take place on 10 July.
“We truly believe this new council could bring about a step change in tourism,” said Grant. “It will be a vehicle for us to be able to listen to you and for industry to tell us exactly what you need.”
Hancock said the tourism and hospitality industry was important not only because of its contribution to employment and economic growth, but also because of the social value it has to Britain.
“We want to support the tourism industry across government and make sure it is plugged into the help it needs,” he said.
Heart of government
Vincent said the council offered a ‘unique opportunity’ to put tourism at the heart of the government agenda.
“We have to reinforce the UK’s position on the world stage as an attractive place to visit with unique attractions,” he said.
Although no agenda has been set for the first meeting, Vincent said he would ensure it addressed the biggest common issues facing the industry, with the aim to set 'realistic goals' ahead of the general election.
BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said the council was the result of three years of industry lobbying for recognition of the important role that tourism plays to the UK economy.
“Tourism employs close to three million people and is set to create 300,000 new jobs by 2020 and 60,000 new opportunities for 18-25 year olds,” she said.
“This is an industry that deserves to be at the heart of government.”
She added that a similar group set up in the US by President Barack Obama had a ‘huge impact’ for the success of the US tourism industry.