Spirits were high this morning at the British Hospitality Association (BHA) Hospitality and Tourism Summit event in the City of London this morning, where senior industry figures gathered to debate issues, and high amongst the list of topics was the potential impact of the EU referendum result.
Opening the Summit, BHA Chairman Nick Varney, who is CEO of Merlin Entertainments, said to delegates: "Tourism and leisure can continue to grow under Brexit! Initially a weaker pound will encourage visitors and also exports will flourish. We should seize the moment and lock in that competitive advantage with a permanent cut to VAT for accommodation, and possibly in the future also for restaurants."
In an industry that has created nearly 600,000 new jobs over the course of the last Parliament (that is 1 in 3 of all new jobs created) the industry calls upon government to urgently clarify the issue of movement of labour which is so important to the growth ad expansion of the sector and reassure our workforce that they are both welcome and valued members of our society.
The British Hospitality Association acts as a voice for over 40,000 hospitality and tourism businesses, championing the interests of the whole industry and lobbying government to pursue policies that enable its members to thrive. Benefits include free advice and expert guidance on regulation, finance and health and safety as well as valuable savings on services from selected business partners.
Its members range from small, independent restaurants to major names in the industry including leading hotel, restaurant and pub chains, visitor attractions, serviced apartments and hospitality venues.
The hospitality and tourism industry is the UK’s fourth largest employer, employing 10% of the workforce in 180,000 businesses.
What does the BHA do?
- Digital agenda: it has responded to the growth of the sharing economy and the rise of digital by campaigning for transparency on intermediary websites and regulation of Airbnb hosts and by advising the industry on data and online protection.
- Competitiveness: it is championing the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, and campaigning on visa reform and airport expansion.
- Up-skilling Britain: it promotes young talent through initiatives such as Hospitality Works and the Big Hospitality Conversation.
- Responsible hospitality: it is lobbying on carbon reduction and providing advice on sustainable practices as well as campaigning and advising on nutrition, hygiene and allergen labelling. It has taken the lead as the primary authority on regulation across the industry.
- Economic engine for growth: it is working with government on its five point plan to boost tourism across the UK and lobbying on fiscal and economic policy. It is lobbying local enterprise partnerships to champion investment and growth reforms.
- Employment legislation: lobbying the Treasury and Low Pay Commission to reduce the impact of the National Living Wage, and working to improve and extend apprenticeships.