Call to maintain Tourism Council following General Election
Simon Vincent (pictured), president, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide, heads the Tourism Council - alongside the tourism minister Helen Grant and skills minister Nick Boles - which was launched in June 2014 to boost the image and understanding of the hospitality sector within Government.
"The industry did not previously have a voice at the Government's table," said Vincent. But now, through the Tourism Council, we have sat around a table with the two minister for the first time and been able to convince the Government of the importance of tourism and hospitality to the economic well-being of the country.
"The industry is worth £127b, which accounts for 9% of total GDP - more than the automotive, utilities or pharmaceutical sectors. It is growing twice as fast as any other industry and accounts for 3.1m job - one in 10 of all job in the UK."
Vincent explained that with only a limited amount of time between the creation of the Tourism Council and the General Election, discussions that had taken place had been limited to three broad topics: apprenticeships and skills, perceptions and communications, and regional growth and development.
"The work we have done so far will only be successful if the next government, of whatever persuasion, continues with the Tourism Council. Once its future has been confirmed we will be able to look at exploring the broader topics in more detail - for instance, how do we change the perception of the industry from being an interim staging post for other careers into one which offers serious opportunities, enabling you to start at the bottom and - if ambitious and you stick with it - reach the top.
Vincent added that the Government now has a better understanding than ever before of the benefits of the industry and that it is a powerhouse for the UK. "The challenge is to maintain this relationship going forward."