Opinion: Prime minister Freeth’s priorities for a day in the top job

Opinion:  Prime minister Freeth’s priorities for a day in the top job

With election fever very much in the air, it’s been fun and games trying to help the younger members of the Freeth household understand why a lady called May remains front-page news in May.

To inject a bit of fun into the last‑minute political rhetoric, I thought it might be interesting to imagine how different things could be for our industry if for one day only there was a travel champion in charge of the country.

Someone who could inject a bit of dynamism into Downing Street. Someone uncannily like me…

Last time I was at Number 10 (true story!) was in spring 2016 when I was lucky enough to attend a charity drinks reception for Just a Drop.

Since then it’s fair to say a few things have changed in the world of politics. So, what might Prime Minister Freeth do if he were in power for the day?

Cut APD

After a behind-the-scenes tour, a quick chin-stroke with Larry (chief mouser to the Cabinet office) and clear instructions on how to use the coffee machine, it would be straight down to business.

In truth, if the only thing I succeeded in doing was getting the chancellor to guarantee cuts to Air Passenger Duty in the next Budget, it would have been a great day at the office and an early Christmas for the travel industry.

With one report suggesting that families booked a quarter more holidays after APD was abolished for kids aged under 12 two years ago, just imagine the kind of boost to the UK economy we could drive if only the government stopped taxing holidays and gave everyone a break.

So, with that thought in mind, I’d be sure to spend much of my day hammering home how sky-high taxes on aviation simply bump up the cost of the average holiday at a time when we’re continually reminded of the importance of consumer spending.

Push travel as a career

Having begun my travel career as a rep and worked my way up through the ranks, I know exactly how important it is that we collectively help young people understand the huge opportunities available to them within our dynamic sector and encourage more college-leavers into our industry.

This is why I’d continue to champion the government apprenticeship levy that came into force this April.

Indeed, if I had a bit of spare time I’d maybe even pop into a local school to help champion the careers on offer.

Finally, I’d like to think that I would be making some speedy decisions. This is not to suggest they would be anything less than 100% thought-through, but fast decisions on topics that impact our business is what the travel industry is calling out for to bring some certainty to our planning.

Of course, that’s quite a lot of responsibility – even for just one day. So, if the pressure all got too much I’d be sure to whip out my fidget spinner for instant focus and calm.

Joking aside, there’s no doubt that politicians could certainly learn a lot about how to engage the general public from travel agents. After all, they do contribute so much to the economy.

Let’s hope whoever takes the reins on June 8 remembers that.

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