Attractions industry news
06 Sep 2012
John Penrose steps down as UK tourism and heritage minister
Image: Penrose at the launch of BISL's report this summer
John Penrose has confirmed he has stepped down as the government's tourism and heritage minister - a role in which the Weston-super-Mare MP had served for more than two years.
In a brief statement, Penrose said: "I'm very proud of the work I did - boosting the tourism industry, cutting red tape and helping with a highly successful Olympic Games as well."
Penrose also held ministerial responsibility for horseracing, gambling and the Royal Parks and Royal Household in his role at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Earlier this summer, he launched the Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL) Oliver Wyman Leisure Industry Report, which called for a designated cabinet member responsible for "championing" the sector.
A DCMS spokesperson confirmed the portfolio will no longer be a "standalone position", with one of the current ministers expected to take on the briefs covered by Penrose.
Tourism Alliance chair Michael Hirst has expressed the industry's "disappointment" at the announcement, and the "greater concern" that there would be no replacement.
"That a very effective minister that has the confidence and support of the industry he represents feels that he has no choice other than to stand down as a result of decreased resources is a damning indictment of government's tourism policy.
"We should be doing everything we can to maximise the tourism legacy in order to provide the growth and employment that the UK economy sorely needs. Yet the government seems set on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."
BISL chief executive Simon Johnson said: "In the light of our report, we were disappointed to find that John Penrose had stepped down. Not only was he an excellent minister, but the reduction in the number of ministers in DCMS seems a backward step.
"The shuffling around of his responsibilities does little to assure us that this government has heeded our call for recognition that the leisure industry is a major sector of the economy and with an employment profile that can help the UK out of recession."
A spokesperson for Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) tweeted: "ALVA is stunned & disappointed to see John Penrose stepping down as tourism minister in response to diminution of DCMS & tourism brief."
British Hospitality Association deputy chief executive Martin Couchman said: "John was a great supporter of the tourism industry. We would be extremely concerned if this indicated any downgrading of tourism in the DCMS's list of priorities."
The announcement follows Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle, in which it was revealed that Maria Miller had been appointed as the new culture secretary.
Two years ago, the Prime Minister pledged to place tourism "at the heart of plans to ensure the UK's economic recovery", before launching the GREAT campaign late last year.
Click here for John Penrose's statement and click here for the current DCMS ministerial composition.
Image: Apollo Photographers