Leaders of the hospitality industry will meet politicians in Parliament today to ask the government for policy reforms to make it more competitive with rival tourist destinations, particularly those in Europe.
According to an independent Oxford Economics study commissioned by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and launched today, hospitality is Britain's fourth largest industry, supporting 14% of total employment and delivering £143b a year to Britain's economy. It has also created one in five of all new jobs since 2010 and will deliver 60,000 apprenticeships, work experiences, and career opportunities for young people by the end of 2016.
However, in order to enable the UK to compete on a level playing field with its European counterparts, the BHA is campaigning for a reduction in the VAT rate from 20% to 5%. A total of 25 out of 27 EU countries have reduced rates for hospitality.
The BHA is also calling on the government to speed up and simplify the visa application process to encourage more visitors from growth markets such as China, as well as wanting to ban rate parity clauses, which mean online travel agents receive the same rate as guests who book rooms with the hotel itself. It argues that rate parity limits savings that hotels can pass on to guests who decide to book directly.
Ufi Ibrahim (pictured), chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, will tell MPs that hospitality is a wealth generator across the country, not just London and the South East.
"But we need government support to fully unleash our industry's potential; on tourism VAT, on visas, deregulation, aviation capacity and on creating a fair digital marketplace by banning so-called rate-parity agreements," she said.
The day will include a Parliamentary reception hosted by Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas and Nick Varney, chairman of the BHA and chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, as well as a series of meetings between MPs and hospitality business owners and managers.
There will also be a briefing session on the research by Oxford Economics into the economic contribution of the British hospitality industry.