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Article 50: Now is the time for "hard talking and negotiations", says BHA

29 March 2017 by
Article 50: Now is the time for "hard talking and negotiations", says BHA

BHA boss Ufi Ibrahim has said the time for "hard talking and negotiations" has begun now that prime minister Theresa May has triggered Article 50 and set in motion Britain's departure from the European Union.

The chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) said that the biggest concern was the position of existing EU workers in the UK, which the organisation sees as crucial to the ongoing success of hospitality.

"Then there is the matter of how many EU migrants will be allowed to enter the UK after the two-year negotiation period is complete," she added.

According to the BHA, more than 700,000 people working in the hospitality and tourism industries are EU nationals, making up 15% of the workforce.

Concerns about recruitment in hospitality - a sector that has for many years been dealing with a shortage of skills - have been rife ever since the referendum took place last June.

Graham Randall, partner and hotel and leisure specialist at corporate recovery firm Quantuma, urged the industry to have a "long hard think" about how it is going to address the issue of labour shortages.

"With strict migration controls on the horizon the competition for skilled staff will become intense as the pool of available workers reduces," he said. "We would expect recruitment difficulties in the hotel and hospitality sectors to intensify over the next two years."

Industry bodies the BHA and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) have emphasised that they will be lobbying the government to strike the best deal for hospitality and to come good on its assurances that guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens will be a priority.

Kate Nicholls, ALMR chief executive, said: "We will be looking to the government to follow up on its promise and safeguard access to people and materials that will ensure the continued growth of the UK's licensed hospitality sector."

Operators were also reminded of their own role in ensuring British hospitality thrives by capitalising on the increase in inbound tourism, driven in part by the weak sterling, by KPMG UK's head of leisure Will Hawkley, who said that consumer confidence will play a large part in enticing visitors.

"Hoteliers, restaurateurs, publicans and proprietors of major UK tourist attractions must be prepared to show tourists that the UK is still open for business, especially after the tragic events of last week," he explained.

"The promise of a weak pound may be enough to pique the interest of potential inbound tourists, but high quality products, service delivery and real value for money will be the key to keep them coming back for more."

The triggering of Article 50 means that the UK will formally cease to be a member of the EU in two years to the day. Negotiations can be extended if all countries unanimously agree they want more time.

EU nationals continue to be drawn to London hospitality despite Brexit vote >>

David Davis urged to repeat assurances for EU hospitality workers on British soil >>

UK to stay open to EU migrant hospitality workers, Brexit secretary admits >>

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