The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has welcomed comments from Brexit secretary David Davis that the door will remain open to European workers in the hospitality industry after the UK leaves the EU.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, described Davis' words as "heartening" and is now seeking an urgent meeting with him to "hammer out" an EU migration plan.
"We are delighted that Mr Davis has listened to the realistic and clear arguments we have made that it will take time to replace the 700,000 EU workers who work in our industry, the UK's fourth largest. We want to now have a serious dialogue with the government as we get into the nitty gritty of a new immigration law.
"We think that in the interests of maintaining our strong economy, which Mr Davis recognises is dependent on service workers from the EU, there needs to be a rigorous evidence-based approach to immigration."
Ibrahim said that it is essential that any new law is not overly bureaucratic or costly as 80% of the 200,000 businesses in the hospitality sector are small-medium enterprises employing less than 10 people.
"Many of these businesses are already just about managing, and increased costs could put them over the edge," she added.
Speaking on a visit to Tallinn, Estonia, Davis said: "In the hospitality sector, hotels and restaurants, in the social-care sector, working in agriculture, it will take time. It will be years and years before we get British citizens to do those jobs.
"Don't expect just because we're changing who makes the decision on the policy, the door will suddenly shut. It won't."
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