20 June 2014 at 07.45 GMT
Tourism minister Helen Grant has been drawn into the row over passport delays by suggesting people affected could take their holidays in the UK.
She said she was confident that people waiting longer than normal for their passports would get them in time to travel this summer, but there was “a lot to be said for the staycation”.
The number of passport applications waiting to be processed reached nearly 500,000 this week.
In an interview with weekly political magazine The House, Grant pointed to a number of sporting events taking place in the UK as a reason for people to stay at home for their summer break.
“I’m very confident that people will get their passports,” she said. “But if they don’t want to go away, we have some fantastic places to visit and holiday not that far from here. I think we are going to have a great summer.
“We are certainly going to have a great summer of sport, too. There’s lots of opportunities to build your holiday around a spoilt-for-choice list of events — the Tour de France Grand Depart, we’ve got the golf, we’ve got the Commonwealth Games, we’ve got football that we can watch on the TV. It’s a wonderful place to have your holiday.”
No 10 insisted that it was for individuals to choose where they took their holiday, but the prime minister’s spokesman was keen to point out David Cameron’s fondness for domestic breaks, The Times reported.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Helen Grant was crystal clear that she was confident people would get their passports to be able to travel overseas.
“As tourism minister, it is completely right that she champions the domestic tourism market, but she was in no way linking the two issues.”
But Eileen Shepherd, 68, a retired nurse who was forced to miss out on a £1,750 cruise because her passport was not ready on time, told the newspaper:
“She is not living in the real world with people like us. It is appalling. I’ve worked all my life and saved all my life to be able to go on one big holiday a year and I was robbed of that chance.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly