Sports minister Hugh Robertson will take over as tourism minister, adding the role of former minister John Penrose to his existing portfolio.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will confirm the restructure of the department this afternoon following Penrose’s departure yesterday.
However, sources within the DCMS confirmed Robertson, MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent, would take over as tourism minister in addition to his current responsibility for sport and the Olympic legacy.
It had been a straight choice between Robertson and fellow DCMS junior minister Ed Vaizey for the role. Vaizey, the MP for Wantage, is minister for culture, communications and creative industries.
The DCMS confirmed this morning that Penrose would not be replaced. A spokeswoman said: “The DCMS had three junior ministers, now there are two.”
The travel industry will welcome Robertson, but the non-replacement of Penrose can only be seen as blow.
The industry has lobbied long and hard for a dedicated, cabinet-level minister for tourism with a responsibility for outbound as well as inbound and domestic tourism. Robertson will be a part-time tourism minister.
Abta chairman John McEwan wrote to the prime minister today to seek clarification of the government’s attitude to the sector.
The association’s head of public affairs Luke Pollard said: “We want to know where tourism sits among the government’s priorities. The concern is tourism wasn’t considered as part of the reshuffle.
“Abta made a very strong case before the last election for a dedicated tourism minister. The issues we are dealing with – aviation capacity, visas, Atol reform – are happening now. We don’t have time for the government to get its act together.”
The travel industry has seen four key ministers with responsibility for the sector depart this week: transport secretary Justine Greening, aviation minister Theresa Villiers, Penrose and Treasury secretary Chloe Smith.
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