Back in August, Prime Minister David Cameron raised hopes that the coalition Government might actually appreciate the value of hospitality and tourism to the UK economy and take positive steps to encourage its growth. The incoming chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, Ufi Ibrahim, welcomed his words as "completely refreshing".
"This is what the industry has been wanting to hear for many years," she enthused.
Two months later, Ibrahim has had a chance to familiarise herself with the industry she represents and to canvass opinion from her members. This week, she unveiled her vision for the future growth of the hospitality and tourism industry and delivered a clear message that she intends to hold the prime minister to his word.
Speaking at the launch of a major BHA report, Creating Jobs for Britain - a Hospitality Economy Proposition, Ibrahim predicted that our industry had the potential to generate 236,000 new jobs by 2015 - but only if it is able to forge what she termed an "active partnership" with government.
Ibrahim's message couldn't have been timelier. With the Government due to publish its spending review next week, Whitehall will surely wish to support any industry sector able to drive economic recovery and sustainable growth.
Specifically, she demanded continued commitment to an integrated network of national tourist boards; a full review of the impact of a 20% VAT rate on hospitality; greater consultation with the industry on the impact of new regulation; and a reduction of visa costs to encourage inbound travel.
David Cameron accused the last Government of underplaying our tourism industry. In ratcheting up the pressure on him to treat it with the care and respect it deserves, Ufi Ibrahim has made the most positive of starts to her tenure at the BHA.
Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper