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BHA round-up: Hospitality must consider the consequences of Brexit

21 April 2016
BHA round-up: Hospitality must consider the consequences of Brexit

The only certainty hospitality has is that it faces an uncertain future after the EU vote on 23 June, says the British Hospitality Association

Like everyone else in the business community, the hospitality industry is eager for an end to uncertainty over Europe.

The referendum has already created plenty of angst among businesses, because being undecided creates uncertainty and investors and businesses don't like uncertainty.

And the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has seen evidence that investors have already started to delay investment decisions in the UK, which is having an impact on business planning and forecasting.

Staff working in the industry don't like the uncertainty either. Hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions employ staff from all over Europe, and many of them have concerns about their status in the future, particularly should Britain decide to leave.

Thankfully, the waiting will be over when the industry gathers for one of the most important events of the year.

The British Hospitality Association's Hospitality and Tourism Summit takes place on 27 June - four days after the crucial vote.

Known as the 'Davos' of hospitality and tourism, the summit attracts leaders, chief executives, politicians, investors, and suppliers to discuss the issues that matter most within the industry.

And there's no doubt that the outcome of the EU referendum will be high on the agenda as we all mull over the significance of the vote. A recent poll showed that four in 10 people do not have a fixed view on Eur- ope, and could change their mind before June 23. This reflects the feelings within the hospitality industry, with many BHA members undecided about which way to vote. Many say privately that the facts haven't yet been set out clearly enough on either side.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA said: "Our membership will vote as they see fit - we have members in both camps.

"No matter what the outcome, the BHA's role is to work in the best interests of the industry. If the vote is to exit, we will manage any consequences - although no one knows what these consequences might be.

"But we do know that even if we do decide to exit, the UK could access existing EU funding for another seven years.

"Even once a decision is made, the uncertainty is likely to continue. If the decision is to stay, there will likely be some changes. If the decision is to leave - we don't know yet what the impact of that will be for us and the other members of the EU."

Keynote speakers at the summit will include John Whittingdale MP, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who will no doubt have some important insights into how the vote result may affect the industry. He will be joined by some of the biggest names in travel, tourism, technology, leisure and hospitality sectors at the Grange St Paul's Hotel in the City of London.

And it's certain that Britain's relationship with Europe will be a very hot topic indeed.

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