Sixteen leisure industry heavyweights have written to the Daily Telegraph to highlight the importance of the sector to the economy at large.
Among the signatories to the letter were JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin (pictured), Marston's chief executive Ralph Findlay, and Enterprise Inns founder Ted Tuppen.
The letter claimed that the UK leisure industry represented 9% of the country's employment, based on findings in a new report by Business in Sport and Leisure, called State of the UK Leisure Industry: A driver for Economic Growth.
It also found that the leisure sector employs more than one in five of those aged between 16 and 25 - more than manufacturing, construction, and financial services combined.
It also claimed that the sector had the potential to create up to 440,000 new jobs by 2020.
The signatories called for: a ministerial champion for leisure at Cabinet level; encouraging employment of those young people not in education, employment or training through a tax incentive for employers; and the adoption of a "more balanced" fiscal and regulatory scheme to reduce £3.2b of extra costs, which they said were holding the industry back.
By Neil Gerrard
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