A new strategy to unlock the hospitality and tourism industry’s job-creating potential must be developed, says Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive, British Hospitality Association.
“If there was one message that came out of the Hospitality and Tourism Summit, held earlier this month, it was that there is overarching concern that the present government is not listening to the country’s wealth creators,” she says.
“The BHA must now focus on ensuring that a new strategy is developed so that the industry’s growth potential – in jobs and investment - is fully realised and is not held back by barriers that could be removed and which would hugely advantage not only the industry but the UK economy overall.”
She said that the BHA was now following up with all speakers and delegates at the Summit to trawl opinion on the focus of the new strategy before the association took it forward.
“The BHA’s role is clear. With ever-widening industry support we must lead opinion so that government fully understands the critically important role that hospitality and tourism plays in the UK economy.
“At present, there is a lot of government talk about supporting the industry, but very little action.
“We must quickly gather together all the industry’s forces to ensure that there is a real change in government attitudes and policies, so that action follows.”
At the Summit, over 500 delegates were united in consensus on the need for industry and government partnership to ensure that the hospitality and tourism industry’s job-creating potential was fully realised.
Ms Ibrahim said that many speakers emphasised the fact that tourism was a rapidly changing global industry, with more destinations opening up every year.
“It is not just the number of competing destinations which continues to grow; the nature of competition is also fast changing. The UK cannot compete without greater government understanding of the competitive barriers that are holding back growth. More important, those barriers must be broken down. At present, the industry is just fighting to maintain its share of the market, with little hope of significant growth,” she said.
“Government must listen to the people who create the country’s wealth because they have to deal with the UK tourism’s lack of competitiveness. This is the biggest barrier to creating jobs in the industry – jobs at all levels, for men and women of all ages, throughout the country.
“The BHA will be taking this message to Whitehall as we develop the new industry-wide strategy for growth.”