“The tone of this meeting has not been what I would have liked,” the tourism minister Nigel Huddleston told TTG editor Sophie Griffiths, towards the end of his interview for TTG’s Agenda 2021 conference this week.
You made a serious mistake there, minister. It sounds very much like you – or more likely your “people” at the Department for Culture Media & Sport – thought that an interview with the trade media would somehow be a soft touch.
That like the rest of Boris’s ministers (with one or two recent exceptions) you’d continue to avoid Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain, but you would happily speak to the good old trade press in the belief that we wouldn’t stand in the way of your platitudes to the industry.
But our allegiance isn’t to you, minister.
Our allegiance is to our audience. To the travel agencies, tour operators, cruise lines, airlines and many more travel companies devastated by the ongoing effects of the Covid crisis – as well as to the hundreds and thousands of those who have already lost their jobs.
And for that we make no apologies at all in putting their questions to you, minister, and for persistently looking for answers where none were forthcoming. We make no apologies at all for challenging your opinions and the decisions of government not to offer sector-specific support for travel this year, and for looking to hold a public servant to account.
We refused to let the key questions go: