Last night, in the stunning surroundings of the House of Commons, a mixture of members and their guests gathered in the Member’s Dining Room, for The Tourism Society’s prestigious Annual Dinner.
Guest speaker Helen Grant MP, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Equalities, spoke with passion about the huge employment opportunities provided by the industry and offered to redouble her commitment to ensure that tourism is fully embraced in the Government’s efforts to rebalance the economy. She stressed her determination and commitment to build on the good news for tourism announced at last week’s budget, when a variety of measures, including reforms to the APD regime, sent a strong message to the industry that the Government is listening to the calls from industry for reforms that will directly lead to growth. She praised the Society’s ambitious plans to mount a major Tourism Symposium in Liverpool on the 2nd/3rd June as part of the International Festival for Business and pledged the backing of her department, the DCMS. She ended by thanking the Society’s Members for their ‘glass half-full’ mentality and ‘can do’ attitude. Grant was later followed by Lady Cobham, Chairman, VisitEngland, who launched the start of English Tourism Week at the event.
Following the keynote speeches, Tourism Society President Lord Thurso MP FTS announced that the winner of the prestigious Tourism Society Award was Michael Portillo, in recognition of the work he has done to help promote many UK destinations, both familiar and not so familiar, through the television series Great British Railway Journeys. Although Michael couldn’t be there himself to receive the award, a short message was played in his absence in which he thanked the Society for the honour and commented that he hoped Great British Railway Journeys had inspired “some to take to the tracks”. Portillo’s producer John Comerford was on hand to receive the award on his behalf and stepped forward to say that the success of the programme, now filming its sixth series, was a testament to the quality of the rich social and industrial heritage that Britain has to offer.
In her first address since becoming Chairman of the Tourism Society, Sandra Matthews-Marsh FTS commented: “The Society is a professional team of “thinkers, leaders and achievers” – capable of making things that really matter, really happen.” She announced the first four Patrons of the Tourism Symposium in Liverpool (Marketing Liverpool, VisitBrtian, VisitEngland and the DCMS) and stated that more sponsors would be announced next week. She added: “The Annual Dinner has become a must-attend event for our Members and leaders of the sector. Last night proved that there is much to be optimistic about, but still a great deal to do to ensure the industry fulfils its potential. If the mood in the Member’s Dining Room at the House of Commons last night is a sign of our resolve to make it happen, then we remain confident that the course is set fair.”