Where tourism is important. And is seen to be

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Sydney Opera House

One of NSW’s biggest tourism attractions – Sydney Opera House…

The Australian state of NSW has a premier who is head of the state government and a string of cabinet ministers like any Westminster modelled government has. But in this case the deputy premier is the Minister for Tourism as well.

How many countries or provincial governments can you think off where the second most important figure is the tourism minister? We are all tourists in one sense or the other, yet rarely does a government take notice of us until a calamity or an election occurs. At a meeting in Liverpool last month, Loyd Grossman, who is not only a purveyor of sauces in supermarkets which bear his name but is also Chairman on the Heritage Alliance, said “central government doesn’t get tourism at all. They seem to be unable to realise that it is our fourth-largest export earner; that it is a real business and that it is a significant form of economic enterprise.  Governments might say something like this from time-to-time but prolonged follow-up is conspicuously hushed. Tourism is in the smallest and one of the least influential government departments of all the ministries. Where are the links between education and big business and economic enterprise?

Despite being of interest to every voter and cutting across how we travel be it by road, air or sea; where we go to and what we see when we get there, there is no co-ordination.  Ministers of transport, the environment, culture, all cut across tourism yet where do we have a tourism minister? In the Department of Culture which is a slophouse of anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. And the minister – Helen Grant – is a lowly parliamentary under-secretary who knows more about sport (her other role) than tourism and whose secretary of state (Sajid Javid) is a businessman who seems to have no background or great interest in tourism.

The “life” of the last six tourism ministers in the UK has spanned just seven years. How can any of them be expected to master a brief yet alone work at it? Power is in the hands of the civil servants and the various tourism authorities because they hang around long enough to do things. So what they say goes not what politicians might want. Is that a good thing? Given how they interfere in other areas, maybe I should be thankful and stop moaning.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

…and another, the harbour bridge.

But at least if a tourism minister was deputy prime minister it might cause more attention to be paid to this kick-stool of politics. I’d be prepared to bet that tourism will never achieve that NSW status in Westminster, Dublin, Cardiff, Belfast or Edinburgh in my lifetime!

So hats off to the New South Wales which has at least given tourism a significant status that befits the impact and effect it has on all of us.

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