HL Deb 25 January 1990 vol 514 cc1163-5

3.15 p.m.

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action is being taken to encourage more training in the tourism industry.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment (Lord Strathclyde)

My Lords, the employment department works with other government agencies to encourage the tourism industry to train staff to their full potential in order to increase the quality of service and to attract and retain new recruits.

Lord Gainford

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Can he say whether he has any information as to the ways in which the Training and Enterprise Council can help tourism? Can the Minister further say whether he has any information as to whether schools are being advised that certain colleges are offering degrees in travel and tourism? I know that Newcastle Polytechnic is one such college. There is another qualification known as COTAC, which is the certificate of travel agents' competence.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, it is quite right to say that the TECs are at the centre of the Government's policy for the future delivery of training. It is important that the tourism industry grasps this opportunity and ensures that its training needs are a prominent feature of all such TECs. My noble friend mentioned a couple of qualifications that can be received from universities and polytechnics. I am very glad to say that these are increasing. In March I shall be going to Sheffield Polytechnic to launch a new course on tourism and travel.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords, can the Minister tell the House what encouragement ABTA is giving to its member firms to encourage further training in the industry? Can he further say how much attention is being paid to language training?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, it is for ABTA to advise its members on training. Whenever the Government meet representatives from that organisation we ask them to encourage their members to train their personnel as effectively as possible. That includes language training, which is a key to the service which we provide to overseas visitors.

Lord Hunt

My Lords, does the Minister not agree that the tourism industry has an important role to play in the matter of conserving the countryside, including the disposal of litter? Can he tell the House whether that aspect of the responsibility of the tourism industry is included in the training programmes?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right in that preservation of the beauty of the countryside and the eradication of the litter problem are extremely important. He will know that there is a Bill before another place to help deal with those problems. The noble Lord ingeniously managed to bring that question into the Question on the Order Paper dealing with training. I say to him that aspects of environmental concern are brought into tourism programmes in schools and colleges.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, will it be possible for the Government to contact the various all-party groups which have liaison with nations almost all over the world? These groups can certainly help the tourism industry. If a connection were made between the tourism industry and the all-party groups, who are so knowledgeable, that would help to make more information available for the tourism industry.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, there is a variety of organisations and committees which represent Britain abroad. Any closer links that they develop with their overseas counterparts are to be welcomed.

Lord Dormand of Easington

My Lords, I refer to the question asked by my noble friend Lady Turner. Will the Minister agree that the Association of British Travel Agents has done a great deal towards training in the tourism industry in recent years? Will he further agree that the organisation continues to place great emphasis on training? Can he give an assurance that when ABTA asks the Government for assistance from time to time they will be ready to consider any proposals which it suggests?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the proof that ABTA sets great importance by the quality of its training is that it offers some of the cheapest holidays in the whole of Europe. As for its requests for help with training, the department offers an enormous variety of schemes, such as Employment Training, YTS and the new TEC initiatives, which members of ABTA are encouraged to use.

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