Tourism Constituency Day - Bournemouth MPs get hands on!

(Picture: Conor Burns MP with trainee College chefs)

Friday 20 March, is designated Tourism Constituency Day, part of VisitEngland’s English Tourism Week which runs from 14 to 22 March. All MPs have been encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get ‘hands on’ at hotels, restaurants, cafes and visitor-facing businesses to understand the true value and impact tourism plays in their destinations.

And Bournemouth MPs Conor Burns and Tobias Ellwood grabbed the chance with both hands and encountered passionate industry staff and students along the way.

Conor visited Bournemouth and Poole College meeting a number of trainee chefs and hospitality students, including 19 year-old Shane Goldsach who said: “I first got a passion for cooking when I was 15 in the kitchens at school, and definitely want to go far in my career. My ambition is to open my own restaurant and gain a Michelin star. I get an adrenaline rush working in the kitchen.”

Seventeen year old Chloe Hayhurst, was equally enthusiastic: “I first started getting interested in cooking when I was 13 when I attended a Saturday chef course at the College.

“We did proper meals such as a full Christmas dinner which I really enjoyed. But I’ve also been influenced by TV chefs. I definitely want to go far in the industry, I’ve loved working at The Pig in Brockenhurst, it’s really developed my skills.”

A dab hand in his own kitchen, MP Conor Burns also visited the four-star Connaught Hotel in Bournemouth, picking up top tips on cooking fish and triple-cooked chips.

Mr Burns, who sits on the Government’s Select Committee Inquiry for Tourism, commented: “The tourism and hospitality industry offers enormous opportunities for school and college leavers with a large choice of apprenticeships available right on the doorstep. And it offers good career progression with lots of on-the-job training to ensure candidates climb the career ladder fast.

“The sector needs a wide range of skill-sets – whether you want to be a chef, sommelier, trainee manager, work in IT or human resources. This is an industry looking for people who want to fulfil their potential.”

(Picture: Tobias Ellwood MP serving afternoon tea.)

Mr Ellwood, meanwhile, surprised guests at Bournemouth’s Marsham Court Hotel by waiting on tables, serving afternoon teas and drinks.

Bournemouth hotelier Rosie Wallace, whose family has owned the Marsham Court Hotel for the past 28 years, pointed to the industry’s considerable career potential, saying: "There is a myth that hospitality is low paid and offers few opportunities.

"The truth is that the industry needs 133,700 managers and directors by 2020 and whether you start a career in a multi-million pound business, prefer an intimate family-run business – or even want to travel the world – the possibilities in hospitality are endless.

“We have staff who have joined us on work placements and quickly climbed the ladder to management roles. It's a vibrant and fast-paced industry, where every day will be different and challenging, but it’s also immensely rewarding."

The politicians’ visits were organised by the NCTA. Director Samantha Richardson commented: “The tourism industry affects everyone – visitors, residents and employees. Nationally, it supports 2.6 million jobs and is worth £106bn a year to England – coastal tourism alone is worth £7 billion annually.

“Tourism is a major employer of school leavers and young people, and a magnet for entrepreneurs. And it touches on so many sectors – retail, transport, sport, performing arts, food – so it’s vital we get it right and encourage young people to enter the profession.

“This is an industry that rewards hard work. There are scores of case studies of people who started at low-entry level but have risen to become stars of the industry and now hold top jobs.”

By Sheron Crossman