The three main political parties have all vowed to pay more attention to tourism and hospitality if elected, with promises ranging from the creation of a dedicated tourism minister to a reduction in red tape to encourage investment.
Speaking to Caterer, Jeremy Hunt, the shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said that a Conservative Government would aim to improve the co-ordination of tourism-related policy by appointing a minister who is not distracted by libraries and other arts issues.
"We believe that by creating a minister whose sole responsibility is to engage with the industry and champion the plight of the industry within Parliament, we can strengthen the voice of this vital industry," he said.
Hunt, along with representatives from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, was answering a series of hospitality-related questions from Caterer in the run-up to the General Election.
For the Liberal Democrats, John Thurso, shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, said that his party did not believe that the tourism minister needed more powers. Instead he suggested the tourism portfolio be moved from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
A Labour spokesman said that the party believed the "existing powers and structure are effective", but added that it would reduce red tape to encourage investment in the industry.
At the time of writing, a poll on Caterersearch.com gave the Conservatives a healthy lead over Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives gained 40% of the vote, with Labour on 25% and the Liberal Democrats on 24%.
By Janet Harmer
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs