Government ministers will turn the spotlight on tourism and hospitality to develop a deal with the sectors aimed at attracting more visitors to the UK and driving economic growth.
Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport (pictured), announced today that his department would embark on negotiations with industry stakeholders to develop a sector deal. He has set out priorities for the deal, namely promoting careers in hospitality and tourism, increasing accessibility, sharing data to identify growth opportunities and increasing accommodation capacity.
Any agreement between the department and the tourism and hospitality sectors would not see additional funding provided but could see money reallocated or include other forms of support to achieve the stated aims.
The announcement has been welcomed by UKHospitality and the British Tourist Authority, with the former stating that the deal should provide a platform to call on the government to secure the future of the workforce post Brexit.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "A supportive sector deal will provide us with incredibly useful support to enhance the skills and training that hospitality already provides. As a sector, we are a fantastic employer and proud of the work we do to develop young employees, but a sector deal will enable us to achieve even more. UKHospitality is committed to enhancing the development and training on offer across hospitality, the roll-out of high-quality apprenticeship schemes and on-the-job training. Additional support from Westminster will allow the sector to capitalise on such schemes and augment the training we provide.
"The positive work that we do, and the future initiatives we wish to undertake with the help of the sector deal does, however, rely on the sector being able to access sufficient labour, at a time when we have virtual full employment, and any future immigration policy will need to reflect that. The government has shown great intent by agreeing a sector deal for tourism, so we look forward to working in partnership, with positive action to secure the future workforce for our sector."
Chair of the British Tourist Authority, Steve Ridgway, who is leading the UK tourism industry's bid for a sector deal, added: "Securing this deal will be a game-changer for the industry, spelling a step-change in how we underpin the success of tourism for a generation, fixing issues from skills and productivity to extending the season year-round and building stronger tourism destinations up and down the country. And it will be a game-changer for the economy with a sector deal growing the value of the industry and increasing employment in tourism."
The secretary of state has said that operators need to be ambitious in their plans if they are to maintain the growth seen in the sectors in recent years.
He added: "I want to make sure that we continue to attract visitors to all parts of the UK throughout the year, who are welcomed by a highly-trained and highly-motivated workforce.
"A sector deal is a way to deliver this, and the industry have put forward some strong ideas to government. We are ready to formally negotiate on a deal which can boost productivity in this crucial sector."