SERIOUS concerns have been raised after it emerged the Government will no longer have a dedicated Minister for Tourism following this week’s reshuffle.
Conservative MP John Penrose, long touted as the Government’s tourism champion with a role focused solely on the industry, was sacked on Wednesday.
It was announced yesterday Mr Penrose will not be replaced at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and that the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson will now take on the tourism brief on top of his existing duties.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “We are disappointed to hear that John has decided to step down.
“Our concern now is where that leaves tourism in the Government’s list of priorities.
“The industry is looking to the Government for a strong signal of intent that tourism remains at the heart of policy, and is not being moved to the sidelines.”
Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis, Labour’s Shadow Tourism Minister, said the decision threatened the legacy of the London Olympics.
“The decision to not replace the outgoing Tourism Minister and downsize DCMS, before the Paralympic Games are even finished, demonstrates all we need to know about the Government’s real commitment to ensuring the Olympics are a catalyst for UK tourism,” he said.
A DCMS spokeswoman insisted tourism remains “an absolute priority for the Government, however, and said that having one fewer Minister will not affect DCMS’s wider work.
“Tourism was one of a number of issues covered by John Penrose, in the same way that Hugh Robertson will also look after sport and gambling,” she said.
“We remain committed to ensuring the tourism industry is a key driver of economic growth, and benefits from the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”