Other sectors of the economy are “no longer looking down their noses at travel, tourism and hospitality, but looking on enviously”, according to tourism minister, John Penrose.
Speaking at the People 1st Industry Leaders’ Presentation and Dinner at the Royal College of Surgeons last week, Penrose said: “We are at a pivotal moment in our history. But it’s more than that.
“For the first time in what seems like far too long, our sector is attracting some envious glances from other sectors of the economy.
"Sometimes, people have looked down their noses at our sector, but now we are showing the rest of the country and the rest of the world that we can put some cutting edge, thought-leading ideas out there that other sectors want to copy.
“I’m hugely impressed and hugely excited but I’m under no illusions.
"We haven’t just got to get 40,000 people trained in time for the Olympics; we’re talking about a legacy of skills that will persist for many years to come, to help us to start to change so that we can compete against all these other countries.
“Otherwise, we’ll increasingly be relegated to a high-cost, high-end, niche destination and we need to be more than just that niche.
"We must remain competitive on price, cost, experience and value. The industry is doing some great stuff that other sectors are looking at enviously, but it’s going to be a huge challenge.
“We’ve made some big promises and got some big agendas, but now it’s up to all of us to deliver. 2012 is going to be a great year, but my God, we’re going to have to work hard to make it work.”
Penrose was addressing 200 employers from the travel, tourism, passenger transport and hospitality sector as People 1st outlined its six-point strategic vision to raise standards and develop skills of those people working in the sector.
Last year, People 1st was awarded £6.8 million from the Employer Investment Fund to finance its two-year programme.
This included helping unemployed people into work; accelerating social mobility; professionalising the industry; achieving economic growth; increasing business investment in skills and reducing wasted public expenditure, and aligning employers and stakeholders to deliver sustained growth through skills.
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