On Tuesday 13th September businesses from across the country joined forces to meet with their local MPs for the second annual BHA Hospitality & Tourism Day. The annual lobby day saw meetings with over 65 Members of Parliament with the day culminating in a House of Commons reception bringing together MPs, business leaders and government officials.
The British Hospitality Association focused the day around four key policy priorities:
- Ensuring a workforce supply which facilitates growth
- Alleviating the impact of National Living Wage
- Competitiveness and taxation
- Local regeneration and investment
Links to all the briefing material provided on the day can be found at the bottom of this document.
This year’s lobby day was twice as big as the seminal event in 2015, and included sessions for every part of the UK – London, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and forty individual meetings.
The BHA asked participants to feedback on their experience of the day, including their suggestions on how to improve the next Hospitality & Tourism Day in 2017.
Lunchtime speakers and briefing and papers
Members welcomed the ‘comprehensive’ policy briefing materials and the lunchtime speeches provided ahead of member meetings. The four policy priorities for discussions (see above) helped steer meetings on the day, but some members who were new to political engagement asked for further direction to help structure the limited time they have in their meetings.
The event was well-timed given that Parliament had only just return from Summer Recess to begin Parliamentary discussions around Britain’s departure from the European Union. As such, the presentation by John Guthrie, BHA Employment Policy Advisor effectively communicated the likely challenge coming from Government as it considers implementing new limits on EU workers once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. KPMG presented the preliminary findings from their assessment, commissioned by BHA/ALMR, of the impact of the National Living Wage on businesses and the difficult decisions facing BHA members in coming months and years.
Several BHA Members were unfortunately unable to attend the lunchtime session, or had to leave early, as their MPs could only meet during this period. For next year the BHA is looking to arrange the date for later in the Parliamentary calendar (likely October 2017) in order to give MPs the opportunity to offer a convenient time to members.
Forging new relationships…
“[Hospitality & Tourism Day] educates BHA members [about how] Parliament works and the challenges of keeping MPs up-to-date with the real and genuine challenges and opportunities in our business. – BHA Member [Ciaran Fahy]
For many on the day this was their first opportunity for a direct meeting with their Parliamentary representatives, allowing them to speak about the industry priorities in the context of their business’s own performance.
BHA member feedback from these meetings revealed that MP knowledge about the industry varied significantly, from those who were already familiar with the challenges facing BHA members (particular on the increasing cost pressures) to others who required a more basic introduction to the industry, its economic contribution and the policy areas.
.. And leveraging existing relationships
“I represented DCMS tourism and spoke to a number of BHA members – it is always useful to hear directly about the concerns and opportunities as we move forward.” – DCMS Official
Other BHA members already have active relations with their Members of Parliament (including from being introduced at the inaugural Hospitality and Tourism Day). These discussions allowed MPs to receive the latest BHA briefing from trusted, local industry representatives.
All BHA members are being encouraged to arrange constituency visits to their establishments and sites to allow MPs a first-hand understand of how member businesses operate.
Involving industry rising stars
“I felt that your passionate chef speaker made a big impact - a great example where youth and enthusiasm for the industry really makes MPs pay attention.” – BHA Member [Ken Arkley]
Seven Big Hospitality Conversation Apprentices also took part in discussions on the day to understand how industry works with Parliamentarians to shape Government initiatives. Feedback said that as well as providing a“good eye opener” to political engagement, their participation helped demonstrate to MPs the investment in talent and the career opportunities provided BHA members.
Many respondents (including from Members of Parliament) identified the key note speech provided by April Partridge, a young award winning chef, as one of the highlights of their day as she spoke about her personal experience, belief in the importance of the industry to our society, and the great opportunities it offers to young people.
Linking the local and national
A welcome development was the increase in participation from members of different BHA Devolved and Regional Committees and the Local Hospitality Associations. Some of the most effective lobbying took place where businesses joined the day through their local, regional forums and spoke as one. The BHA wants to increase the participation of the associations and committees in the next Hospitality & Tourism Day to ensure that industry across all parts of the country are championed to the same high standard.
The full results of the day are still being reported as follow-up to engagement on the day continues including the arrangement of local constituency visits. BHA members secured commitments from their MPs to support industry positions on key asks taking the new of recognised industry supporters to 164 MPs. The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Visitor Economy, the key cross-party forum for industry in Parliament and facilitated by the BHA, secured an increase in membership and profile.
On the day itself Caroline Ansell MP, following her meetings, asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about bringing the UK into line with the rest of Europe by implementing a reduced rate of Tourism VAT.
The BHA will be confirming the date for the third Hospitality & Tourism Day shortly. More immediately, the BHA wants to help all members (including those not involved on the 13th September) secure a meeting or site visit by their local MP. Parliament will play a crucial role in the shape of discussions around Brexit and the greater the level of member engagement the more effective our industry’s influence will be on the key issues.
The BHA is already arranging for a series of roundtables from the different government departments to discuss directly with officials and Ministers about the impacts British exit from the European Union will have on hospitality and tourism, and the industry’s ability to create growth and employment. On the back of Hospitality & Tourism Day a senior level meeting with advisors to the Prime Minister have taken place in what will be continuing dialogue on Europe between the senior Ministers and the industry in the years ahead.
- BHA Briefing for Government – the top four priorities for hospitality and tourism (UK Version, Welsh Version , Scottish Version)
- BHA/Oxford Economics Local Economic Map – find out your contribution of our industry in your local area(s).
- Briefing: “Creating Coastal Powerhouses” - recommendations for Government on supporting coastal regeneration
- Cut Tourism VAT Briefing - the economic case for a tourism VAT reduction