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The Coalition Government one year on – what the industry thinks

20 May 2011
The Coalition Government one year on – what the industry thinks

Among the first acts of David Cameron's premiership was a speech on the great value of the tourism industry to the UK economy. So is he helping or hindering? Caterer asked a cross-section of industry leaders to give us their assessment after the coalition Government's first year in power

The Royal Wedding bunting may still be up in hospitality businesses around the country, but for another internationally recognised British couple the honeymoon is well and truly over.

It is now a year since Gordon Brown left Downing Street with his family to tell the Queen he was to step down as prime minister, paving the way for a coalition led by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. And while the union began with a photo session and kind words in the garden, it is now being driven apart by a difference of opinion over voting reform.

For hospitality, too, the coalition started brightly, with grand words of devotion and admiration. But has the relationship since soured after early promises of investment and support withered?

When he came to power Prime Minister David Cameron introduced a tourism minister and a pubs minister, and made his recognition of the industry plain in a tourism speech that was welcomed in all quarters. Back in August he said: "Tourism presents a huge economic opportunity, not just bringing business to Britain, but right across Britain, driving growth in the regions and helping to deliver the rebalancing of our national economy that is so desperately needed."

But since then the industry has had to contend with a VAT hike to 20%, alcohol duty increases, and a cap on migration that threatens the viability of thousands of ethnic restaurants. And while most business leaders recognise that the Government needs to cut to balance the books, having singled hospitality and tourism out as a wealth and job creator there is general consternation that VisitEngland's bid for a grant of £29m from the Regional Growth Fund was rebuffed.

Meanwhile, the industry has backed a match-funded campaign to raise cash for tourism marketing, and a commitment to reduce legislation through the Red Tape Challenge should be taken as an opportunity to reduce the bureaucratic burden.

So what effect have these initiatives had on the ground? To mark the coalition's first year in office, we asked a cross section of senior industry figures to provide an end-of-year report, offering their thoughts on the Government's performance and where it needs to improve.

What the hoteliers think >>

What the restaurateurs think >>

What the pub companies think >>

What the contract caterers think >>

What the supplier associations think >>

What the BHA thinks >>

How do you think the Coalition Government is performing for hospitality? Tell us atTable Talk.

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