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Worried about Brexit? Just grin and bear it

15 July 2016
Worried about Brexit? Just grin and bear it

It's up to us to inspire confidence and look for the positives after the referendum says Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels

As a mere observer I feel optimistic about how things may turn out. For all the alarmist protests we are hearing, I feel sure that our Government will not choose to throw out any of the skilled workers from overseas residing here.

Why would they? And of course, in the short term, we have been handed a lucky dividend in the form of a weaker pound, which improves our competitiveness as an inbound tourist destination and makes staycations even more reasonable compared with foreign holidays. Both Travelzoo and Best Western have reported spikes in interest since the referendum and in our own collection the mood is definitely positive.

What I believe very strongly is that much will depend on perceptions. Nobody wants to visit a country characterised by angry protest or constant moaning, and so Vist- Britain's strategy to emphasise the friendly welcome makes good sense. In fact, the hospitality industry is well placed to set an example to other sectors by its ability to put on a happy face in any circumstances. Just as leading voices can talk us into a recession with gloomy predictions, upbeat comments from prominent business people can prevent the sort of panic in the market that lets things slide. The more confident we seem, the more likely it is that our customers will carry on spending money. After all, eating out and staying in nice hotels has become a lifestyle habit for many, and one that they won't be giving up in a hurry. I feel that in the same way we should at least appear to embrace the National Living Wage with enthusiasm, as this will send a message to bright young people that the hotel and catering trade wants them and doesn't resent paying a decent rate, given that the legislation has already been passed.

Furthermore, the upper reaches of catering are awash with people who started at the bottom - a fine example being Bea Tollman, who shared her inspirational story with us on receiving this year's Lifetime Achievement Catey award, so by now we should really be fighting off the hordes seeking employment in this most opportunity- laden of businesses. Let us hope that Theresa May brings a degree of ordered calm to the situation and that our country regains a proper sense of national pride. Our job is to keep smiling.

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