CBI director general Richard Lambert today called on the Government to “do no more harm” and treat the hospitality and tourism industry “with a little respect”.
Speaking at the British Hospitality Association annual lunch at London’s Grosvenor House, he said that he did not expect the Government to provide much help through the leaner times.
Lambert said that the industry had been put through enough already with the abolition of the hotel building allowance, an increase in the small companies rate of corporation tax, a new rate of capital gains tax and the abolition of taper relief.
“The British hospitality sector is a vital national asset and a major creator of wealth and jobs,” he told the audience, which included tourism minister Margaret Hodge.
“The BHA has calculated that last year’s changes alone probably took an additional £750m or more out of hotels restaurants and other hospitality businesses. The sector has the capacity to make a substantial difference to the country’s overall balance of trade.
“As family budgets continue to be squeezed and corporate spending on entertainment activities come under increasing pressure the implications for the hospitality industry are obvious”, he said.
He added that the BHA and the CBI should fight issues surrounding tax together.
“We have to make a case for a clearer, more consistent approach to tax policy. One that recognises the importance of a competitive tax environment, and provides a broad overall sense of direction, as opposed to having the chancellor spring out of the bushes from time to time with a sock full of wet sand.”
Lambert said that the two organisations needed to be lobbying together against further incursions into the industry’s flexible labour market “and against the overall burden of business regulation which continues to grow”.
“We need to be focusing on the role government and business have to play together in order to raise the quality of skills and professionalism in our employees, present and future.”
Lambert went on to say that the signs for many of those in the hospitality business point to a tough year or two ahead, but this would be a time of opportunity for those with courage, vision and resources.
By Amanda Afiya
E-mail your comments to Amanda Afiya here.