Travel industry reacts after Rishi Sunak appointed prime minister

Industry leaders have reacted to the news that Rishi Sunak will be the UK’s next prime minister, with Abta saying he must prioritise “economic stability and cost-of-living support”.

The ex-chancellor received the support of more than half of Tory MPs and succeeds Liz Truss, who quit on Thursday after 45 days in the role.

His appointment was confirmed after Penny Mordaunt announced she had dropped out of the Conservative leadership race just minutes before nominations closed at 2pm.

More: Government policies ‘hindering rather than helping’ inbound tourism

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, stressed the need for Sunak and his government to focus on bringing stability and provide support through the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: “As Rishi Sunak takes up the job as the UK’s third prime minister this year, what businesses and consumers now need is stability, clarity, and confidence that we are set on a path to economic recovery.

“We also need the government to understand the delicate position the travel industry is in and the support needed. We’ve had a decent summer of trading, but that is on the back of two years of no travel during the pandemic, and consumer budgets are now feeling the squeeze of the rising cost of living.”

Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said her initial reaction to the appointment was “positive”.

“My instant reaction is positive: we have an opportunity now to get stability back,” she said. “Regardless of what we think about his economic policies during Covid, Rishi Sunak has experience at the highest level and is used to making decisions that are for the economic benefit of the country.

“My personal view is that we will see some stability and the government will use this moment to focus on getting things back on track and giving consumers that confidence.”

She reiterated the importance of industry lobbying on outbound travel regardless of which leader was in place, following the recent tie-up between Advantage and Aito.

“It goes back to making sure we are speaking with a really loud voice and taking responsibility to champion the outbound industry,” she added.

The Travel Network Group’s chief commercial officer Vim Vithaldas said: “Rishi Sunak’s reputation as a competent economist should help take sterling off the headlines and consumers can focus on choosing the destinations they want rather than speculating on the impact of sterling on their holiday costs.”

Martyn Sumners, executive director at Aito The Specialist Travel Association, said: “Over the last few days, we’ve seen that the pound has strengthened; confidence is slowly returning to the financial markets. This can only be good for our businesses.

“Aito firmly hopes that, with Mr Sunak as prime minister, we can avoid the extreme actions of Trussonomics, which have done so much harm to the British economy.

“We hope and believe that the former Chancellor will recognise the importance of fiscal stability for Britain, to allow us again to be recognised as Global Britain. Both the public and businesses need to feel confident about the way forward, and the travel industry has a significant part to play in re-establishing these credentials.

“Aito hopes to engage in dialogue with Mr Sunak ASAP, along with our allies in the Advantage Travel Partnership, to demonstrate the huge value – many billions of pounds – that the travel industry delivers to the economy annually.

“Every business owner, and every householder across the country, seeks stability and consistency from our politicians. And all businesses need a considerably longer aid package to address the huge hikes in energy costs.

“A speedy and efficient way to help the whole of the UK in one quick move needs to be found, ASAP; this would chime well with the speed at which Mr Sunak initiated the furlough scheme at the start of the pandemic.”

Miles Morgan Travel owner Miles Morgan said: “Boring and predictable in politics is what works really well for the travel industry. Rishi Sunak is seen as a safe pair of hands and was probably the best available option for the industry.”

Related Articles

Brand leaders must make DEAI ‘part of cultural DNA’

AI and CSR key themes at annual Serandipians conference

In Focus: Why all brands should be investing in accessible travel