Accountability at the highest levels of government

In June 2012, just before the London Olympics and Paralympics, the BHA organised its first Hospitality and Tourism Summit, which brought together 400 business owners and operators from the sector. It was a strong demonstration of the vitality, innovation and diversity of Britain’s hospitality and tourism sector. It helped begin to unite a sector which has, historically, been too fragmented. Despite the mood of anticipation and ambition, there was frustration that the Government had not lived up to its earlier rhetoric.

We have noticed how other countries have managed to achieve a more effective partnership with Government achieving coherence and consistency of public policy. It is now time for Britain to catch up. We repeat our suggestion, made originally in the autumn of 2010, for the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers to meet each year with the leaders of our industry and together shape the agenda for jobs and growth. This is the approach that is taken in other countries as their governments recognise that the industry’s success is, to a considerable extent, shaped by the coherence and consistency of public policy.

Such an annual dialogue would have provided an ideal opportunity, for example, for industry leaders to outline the real damage we feel is being done to our international image and reputation for friendliness and openness by the existing visa regime. It would have provided a forum where we could have agreed together the best techniques for increasing our share of the major events and conferences which are so important to our economy. Far from being a ‘grievance’ hearing, such annual meetings would act as a springboard for growth and development.

Cross-government ministerial task-force for hospitality and tourism

To further relations with the Government and the hospitality and tourism industry, an industry led board of employers and leading players in the sector have formed The Tourism Council. The focus of the Council is on improving skills, increasing the quality and quantity of jobs available and boosting enterprise in the industry. It will look at increasing the availability and take up of apprenticeships and improve training and development within the sector.

The Tourism Council will be co-chaired by the Tourism Minister, the Minister of Skills and Enterprise and senior industry representative from Hilton Worldwide. The Council will be made up of 22 members representing industries engaged in transportation, hospitality, entertainment, travel, accommodation and services actively marketed to inbound and domestic travellers.

Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant said:

The tourism and hospitality industry helps us sell Britain, helps contribute to economic growth and helps drive investment. The Government is committed to working in partnership with industry to build on the success achieved in continuing to deliver further economic benefits for the UK economy and businesses across the country."

With meetings every 3-4 months, the Council will build on the work already announced by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, an initiative designed to develop a clear and concise apprenticeship standards throughout many industries in the UK.

For more information regarding the Tourism Council click here to the full press release.