The government delivered a fresh slap to the travel industry today, confirming it has downgraded the role of tourism minister. Former tourism minister John Penrose, who departed yesterday, will not be replaced.
His role will be added to the responsibilities of one of two current ministers, most likely to be Hugh Robertson, minister for sport.
However, Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries could also have tourism added to his portfolio.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed this morning that Penrose will not be replaced
A spokeswoman said: “The DCMS had three junior ministers, now there are two. John Penrose’s portfolio will be given to the two.”
The travel industry has lobbied long and hard for a dedicated, cabinet-level minister for tourism with a responsibility for outbound as well as the inbound and domestic sectors.
Penrose was a junior minister, outside cabinet, with a brief limited to inbound and domestic and responsibility also for heritage, the lottery, gambling and horse racing.
Now his role will be divided between DCMS junior ministers Robertson, MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent, and Vaizey, MP for Wantage.
Vaizey is the more high-profile, responsible for arts, the media, broadband access and telecommunications. However, sports minister Robertson appears more likely to inherit the tourism brief alongside the government’s ‘Olympic legacy’ initiative.
The DCMS said no decision had been made. The spokeswoman said: “The decision is being worked on today.”
In a separate move former investment banker Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, replaced Chloe Smith as economic secretary to the Treasury, a role that includes oversight of Air Passenger Duty (APD).
Smith became parliamentary secretary to the cabinet office following a recent disastrous appearance on BBC’s Newsnight.
It means the industry has seen four key ministers with whom it has developed relationships shifted away from travel: transport secretary Justine Greening, aviation minister Theresa Villiers, Penrose and Smith.
Abta expressed dismay at the DCMS changes, saying: “The government has said tourism is a key driver of economic growth and it is vital we have clear leadership in place at a time when the tourism legacy from the Olympics needs to be secured and the contribution from outbound, inbound and domestic tourism needs to be properly understood.”
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