WSH chairman Alastair Storey has called for the hospitality industry to unite to get Government recognition for its contribution to the UK economy.
Speaking at last night's Arena Savoy Lecture, Storey urged foodservice operators, restaurants and hotels to work together to raise their game as an industry and strive to be world leaders in food and beverage and customer service.
His comments came hot on the heels of a recent report by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) that found that hospitality generated 153,000 new jobs between 2010 and 2012, accounting for 28% of all new jobs in the UK over this period and making the sector the fourth-largest employer.
"In other words, our industry is massively important to the UK economy," said Storey, who recently topped the Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 list of the most powerful people in hospitality.
"Do we get the political recognition that should match our size and role in the economy? We do not have a dedicated minister in Government. We are represented through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. I don't see the word ‘hospitality' in there. "
In light of the recent horse meat scandal, which Storey described as the "work of fraudsters", he went on to stress the importance of a supply chain that was led by quality and not price.
"We must do more to support our farmers, artisans and suppliers because if they are weak we cannot be strong for long. I know that times are tough and that the temptation and pressure to just focus on price is often extreme.
"But unless we integrate sustainability into our thinking, and first and foremost into our procurement, we will not reduce our vulnerability. It is imperative that we support our communities and pay a fair price for good-quality and traceability."
The BHA research, carried out by Oxford Economics, suggested that the industry could create a further 300,000 new jobs by 2020, but Storey said that more needed to be done to make front of house an attractive proposition to young talent.
"We can offer many more young people brilliant opportunities in hospitality but they need to see its attractions. They need role models and inspiration and it's entirely up to us to provide that inspiration. More fundamentally, we need to rid our society of the idea that service is servility," he explained.
Storey said the BHA was a good focal point for addressing the agenda but emphasised that it needed to be supported by all the big players as well as the small.
HOSPITALITY IN NUMBERS
â- The industry generates a further 1.4 million jobs through supply chain and multiplier effects.
â- It generates £40b in tax revenue for the Treasury - equivalent to over 7% of total annual tax receipts.
â- Hospitality generates £10b of foreign exchange export earnings.
â- It serves one in every six meals consumed in the UK.
â- There are around 240,000 hospitality establishments across the UK.
â- 14 million meals were served during the Olympics alone.