SIR ROCCO FORTE: Travel U-turns are government terrorism

For the past 18 months, the public has been deliberately and systematically terrified. With our politicians nervously hiding behind scientists, we are ruled by dodgy computer models making ridiculous predictions of deaths that never materialized.

We have been led to believe false statistics that have absurdly inflated the number of people who have died from Covid. And we’ve even been misled about how many have been hospitalized with the disease.

We too are subject to all kinds of restrictions on our freedom.

Anger: Sir Rocco Forte is outraged by government efforts to control coronavirus

Who would have thought that this country, supposedly one of the freest in the world, would have cooperated in such draconian controls? Once you have apps that track what the population is doing and government-established systems that stop people from traveling or dictate how we behave and interact with each other, you enable the precursors of totalitarianism.

In short, we have started to mount a form of terrorism by the government, all in the name of alleged biological security. Who would have thought we’d be such a flock of sheep?

For this reason, I welcome the government’s decision to finally open our borders to travelers from the United States and continental Europe next week – even if the current state of uncertainty remains far from ideal.

This is of course important not only for the principle of freedom of movement, but also because it is absolutely necessary for the tourism and hospitality sector.

Of course, you might suspect that as the chairman of a chain of hotels and resorts, I act out of self-interest, but I can assure you that I am concerned about the interests of everyone in the country.

Why? Because tourism and hospitality account for a significant nine percent of the economy, and the sectors employ about ten percent of the total workforce.

If we want to recover economically from Covid, it is not only essential that travel is as free as possible, but that it also remains as free as possible.

That means there should be no new U-turns or tightening of restrictions, because I fear that many companies – who have only just survived – are going to the wall.

My own business has suffered greatly. Our income was one-fifth of what it should have been in the past fiscal year. And while all my hotels are still up and running, I had to put more into debt to keep them going, and in the coming years we – like so many other companies – will have to work hard to get out of the red. .

The economic hangover from all those restrictions being forced on us to deal with Covid will be long and very, very tough. This is something I think many in government don’t understand. I am thinking in particular of Michael Gove, who has been in charge of lock-downs and closing the country.

As for the Prime Minister, I suspect he has been misled by the scientists on a number of occasions. They withheld information from him and led him to make decisions that I don’t think he instinctively would have made. What is abundantly clear is that there is no clarity on policies to move the country forward and successfully emerge from Covid. We are apparently about to enter a world of high spending and high taxes, which is the opposite of what we need.

Then there’s the whole green agenda, which will further cripple us with its aggressive goals of achieving carbon neutrality, while India and China are constantly spewing out so much greenhouse gas that our efforts to curb our own pollution will be not only irrelevant but laughable.

So what am I asking for?

For my own industry, I want a dedicated tourism minister. It is absurd that the minister currently in charge of the industry is a humble parliamentary secretary of state whose remit includes not only tourism but also sport and the Commonwealth Games.

There should be a new minister who focuses purely on tourism, who would have more clout to help our industry recover. We also need some subsidy, especially to keep the VAT low, which would really help us get back on our feet.

The most important thing is that we emphatically do not want a system of passes and passports to allow people to visit hotels and restaurants and the like. It should not be the job of the hospitality industry to control or even restrict people’s movements.

I know I am fighting against an authoritarian species among us who insists that nightclubs be closed and that there must be a curfew after 10pm. So it will be. These are the people who don’t go out anyway – and we shouldn’t be led by them.

On a more general level, the government must stop hiding behind this group of scientists.

These people have become too content with themselves, perhaps from being on television every day.

They should go back to their cubicles – or their labs – while the rest of us help rebuild our shattered economy and bring hope back to the many whose lives have been destroyed not by Covid, but by the hysterical way it has been. handled .

Enough is enough. Let’s take back control. That is a message that this Prime Minister in particular can certainly deliver again.

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