Conor, who began his talk with an outline of his constituency, went on to talk about Brexit and how his work since 2012 on the Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, had seen him attend great events, as well as debate the benefits of tourism and its importance in particular to Bournemouth as a tourist destination.
He described Brexit as a “challenge” with “potential opportunities”, suggesting that lobbyists to his department, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, were rarely those from the tourism sector, despite the sector being collectively bigger than other large industries such as the automotive industry.
The MP also spoke at length about the importance of education and language schools, revealed in a Bournemouth University study to be worth more than £200million to the local economy each year, as well as the status of students undertaking studies in the town, who he felt should be removed from net migration figures. In promoting the UK’s tourist offering after Brexit, Conor contended that Britain’s leaving of the European Union would have a “minimum implication” on the British tourism sector; that people would be able to promote jobs in tourism and service jobs in the UK, as well as greater promotion of tourism to other areas beyond London.
Conor also looked what he felt were historically-held views of the hospitality industry and service sector, which had been “disparaged”, with an inadequate level of pride taken in people working in restaurants, bars and service areas, compared to other countries. It was also suggested that the supply of human resources from the EU had been of enormous benefit to the sector, with hoteliers struggling to find the same level of commitment from the domestic British workforce.
In concluding his talk, Conor took questions from the student audience, who asked about the future of the UK citizens’ right to free movement throughout the EU, which Conor had hoped would remain the same post-Brexit, and questions from a number of international students who looked at Greece’s involvement with the EU, the Euro currency, and the ramifications of a British European exit on other countries within the Union.
Duncan Light, Senior Lecturer in Tourism at BU, who organised the talk, said: “I knew the students would be interested in hearing someone speak about Brexit and the implications for tourism and the opportunity to talk with Conor. “It’s really all about enhancing the student experience; giving them an opportunity to get a unique perspective. It was a really great experience and students were wrapped with attention.”
Conor said: “I really enjoyed the talk, the students were very lively and certainly warmed-up, and we covered a massive range of issues. The thing that is always striking when you talk to an audience of students at BU is how international they are. This is one of the great strengths of BU and the university sector in the UK.
He added: “We had informed and opinionated questions as I would have hoped; the talk was really lively.”
To read more about BU’s Tourism Management BA (Hons), please visit: https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/study/courses/ba-hons-tourism-management