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The head of the British Tourism Authority (BTA) said the tourism industry must demonstrate its value to the government as Brexit talks began this week. The UK government is now operating without an overall majority after the 8 June election. Steve Ridgway took over on April 1 as chairman of the BTA, which runs VisitBritain and VisitEngland.

“It’s a challenge to get tourism in the minds of ministers, [but] we all have a duty to get this industry higher up the agenda. The message of what we can deliver to the economy through these more difficult times needs to be delivered continuously,” said Ridgway, who is a former Virgin Atlantic chief executive.

According to Travel GBI, Ridgway met with the new UK Minister of Tourism last week to stress to him the importance of tourism to the UK economy.

“The good thing about tourism is it’s measurable. It’s a £127 billion industry representing 10% of GDP and more than three million jobs. I told [new tourism minister] John Glen he can stand up in Parliament with some data and a lot of ministers can’t,” Ridgway told Travel GBI. “I made the point very clear to John Glen. We need to leave the market intact.”

The latest VisitBritain figures show that 3.7 million visits were made to the UK in April this year, up 19% compared to the same month last year and the highest April since records began. Overseas visitors spent a record £2 billion in April. That number is 20% higher than the same month last year. The most recent flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings for international arrivals to the UK during the summer are tracking 12% ahead of the same period last year.