The three most recent incumbents of the post of secretary of state for tourism can’t speak English. Nor can they speak French or German. Perhaps the latest secretary of state, appointed on Tuesday, can speak all of them. Just one language would be an improvement for a role that is essentially international and involves (or should do) meeting with the likes of airlines and tour operators.
The lack of language ability is just one factor in the criticism of appointments of tourism secretaries of state. Another is the regional dimension. Two of these three secretaries have been Majorcan. One has been from Gran Canaria. In fact, if one adds Joan Mesquida to the list, three out of four of the secretaries between April 2008 and last Tuesday have come from Majorca. The Balearics (Majorca) fare well when it comes to these appointments because a) people from the Balearics (Majorca) are seemingly supposed to know more about tourism than people from other regions (even if they don’t), and b) they are a consolation prize for not supplying ministers.
There has rarely been a time as important as now for there to be individuals with real qualifications having the positions of secretary of state and minister. Moreover, this minister - and this has been demanded for decades - should be responsible for tourism and nothing else. Despite all the talk from the government, the crisis has exposed just how marginalised tourism can be politically. Yet the crisis has emphasised that equal cabinet status with, for instance transport, is essential.