Criticism of an invitation for Matt Hancock to speak at a key travel conference has increased after accusations that the then Health Secretary ignored expert advice about care homes at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Hancock is due to speak at the Institute of Travel & Tourism (ITT) annual conference in Qatar in early June.
His presence at a travel industry event had already attracted criticism before today’s revelations in the Telegraph.
As a minister he was instrumental in creating Covid travel restrictions that damaged holiday companies and airlines,
Paul Goldstein, co-owner of Kicheche safari lodges in Kenya and a prominent campaigner against travel restrictions during the pandemic, said: “The morally derelict Matt Hancock in the ethical cesspool of Qatar – they were perhaps made for each other.
“This is the man who helped to destroy my industry with his ludicrous travel restrictions based on neither science nor geography. This is the philanderer who then shamefully broke his own restrictions whilst many obeyed his instructions and were denied visiting rights to dying relatives.
“He is now no doubt getting a fat fee for speaking in the Middle East to an audience who surely know more about travel than he does.
“What on earth is he going to talk about?”
On Twitter, travel industry veteran Laurence Hicks wrote: “One very good reason not to attend this conference. I really don’t believe that he’s being given a platform! What a waste of members’ funds.”
Richard Forde of Newmarket Holidays wrote: “Read the room?! What an appalling decision and announcement. Have you forgotten 2020?”
But Steven Freudmann, Chair of the ITT, insisted it would be “a great opportunity for delegates to tell him what they think of the government’s handling of the Covid crisis”.
Previous speakers at ITT events have included Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and George Osborne.
Dr Freudmann said: “Inviting guest speakers to address our conference does not imply that we endorse their views – quite the contrary.
“Indeed Matt Hancock is aware that he has few friends in the travel industry and is also aware of the damage caused across the travel sector by the decisions made whilst he was Secretary of State for Health.”
The audience will have a chance to question Mr Hancock. The Independent has sought a comment from the…
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