The hospitality industry should accept the results of last week's EU referendum and look forward to ensure the sector's needs are heard in the upheaval ahead.
That was the message from Lord Hague who was speaking at the British Hospitality Association's (BHA) Hospitality & Tourism Summit yesterday (27 June).
The final keynote speaker for the day, Lord Hague described the situation as "one of the messiest divorces that you can imagine" and "the most complex set of circumstances facing an incoming Prime Minister since Churchill in 1940", but urged the industry to accept the public vote, adapt to the change and "find the advantages among all the disadvantages".
"Get ready to argue for changes in regulations you didn't agree with," he told hospitality chiefs. "It's a really important time to influence your government."
Lord Hague, who was a vocal Remain supporter in the run-up to the Referendum, suggested the depreciation of the pound could benefit the hospitality industry and the Referendum result could have a positive impact if the sector is active in ensuring government and parliament hear its needs.
He said: "Businesses [ahead] need resilience, flexibility and diversity of advice and opinion, along with more local knowledge of markets around the world. And we need more long-term thinking and to hold our nerve when we get hit by one of these bouts of volatility… We need to build economic confidence for people to invest."
In a new world of political instability, he predicted there may be more tension in Europe if there is a push for tighter integration. He also suggested there is likely to be a new cycle of political disillusionment if the promises that were made during the Referendum cannot be fulfilled, and powerful political insurgencies are not going to go away anytime soon.
"This has a wider effect than just in the UK," he said, referring to stock markets falling on the continent. He said the UK's reputation as a tourist destination will rely on how it deals with the events of the coming months, and how it reacts to the instability, adding: "We're in a world of greater volatility but great breakthroughs have been made in difficult times."
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