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Industry rallies to support minister for hospitality post before crucial debate

05 January 2021 by
Industry rallies to support minister for hospitality post before crucial debate

Workers across the industry are being asked to boost awareness of the need for the post before it goes to Parliament on 11 January.

Operators are being urged to lobby their local MP and continue to encourage signatures for the minister for hospitality petition after a date was set for the debate in Parliament.

MPs are due to discuss the potential position on 11 January and industry leaders are calling on their colleagues to keep up the momentum and pressure on the government ahead of the debate.

They agree that the creation of the minister for hospitality role will be the opportunity for the industry to be properly recognised in the corridors of power as the jobs juggernaut and significant wealth creator that it is.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "We need to act as our own cheerleader and present an unambiguously united and vocal front. This is an opportunity to highlight how much we mean to our staff and our customers and a chance to show the overwhelming support we have across the country."

She added that as the debate comes just before a review of the tier system, it will be "an open goal for us to hammer home the importance of hospitality and ensure that we are totally at the forefront of Parliament's mind".

Home Grown Hotels chairman and chief executive Robin Hutson has championed the petition, first started by Chef & Restaurant magazine, through the #seatatthetable campaign.

He said in this week's Inside Track: "While achieving a single well-informed, senior voice within government is the primary objective of the petition, I also believe we desperately need to galvanise our common values and lobby with clarity behind a single voice outside of Westminster."

Mowgli founder Nisha Katona said that the position would allow the industry to broker "sensible, quick and collaborative solutions".

She said: "Unmoored and staggering, never has an industry so needed ministerial representation. A minister for hospitality would form that crucial link in the chain between government and operators, decisively dragging our industry out of the mire and helping hereafter to yoke us hopefully and purposefully, to an economy straining to recover."

Chef-restaurateur Tom Kerridge said that the industry was now "vulnerable and weak" with a desperate need for a focal point.

He added: "Any industry that employs so many people and is as integral as the engine room for pulling this country out of the depths of coronavirus, Brexit and the recession, must have its own focal point that pierces to the heart of Westminster."

The campaign has now amassed around 182,000 signatures. Even though the debate is secured the industry is being urged to continue to lobby local MPs and ask all those who haven't yet to sign the petition.

Show your support

  • Sign the petition at: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552201
  • Follow the #seatatthetable social media accounts. By liking, sharing and commenting on its posts, you can help share the message.
  • Contact your staff and suppliers to encourage them to sign the petition.
  • Contact your client database to ask them to support your business by signing the petition.
  • Write to your MP to emphasise the importance of the debate and the impact a minister for hospitality would have. Go to: www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-an- mp-or-lord/contact-your-mp.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality

Kate Nicholls
Kate Nicholls

On 11 January, we will hear MPs discuss the creation of a position that has long been advocated by the sector: minister for hospitality. The debate itself is actually about much more than just the possibility of a new minister. It is a recognition of the importance, economically, socially and culturally, of hospitality in the UK.

Coming, as it does, just before a review of the tier system and restrictions on our businesses, it is also an open goal for us to hammer home the importance of hospitality and ensure that we are totally at the forefront of Parliament's mind.

In which case, we need to act as our own cheerleader and present an unambiguously united and vocal front. This is an opportunity to highlight how much we mean to our staff and our customers and a chance to show the overwhelming support we have across the country.

That means getting as many signatures on the petition and as many letters to MPs as possible ahead of the debate. It is vital that you encourage everyone you know to take this chance to deliver a message to Parliament, that we matter and must be supported.

Adrian Ellis, general manager, the Lowry hotel

Adrian Ellis
Adrian Ellis

As chair of the Manchester Hoteliers' Association, we have been a strong and enthusiastic supporter of the campaign to appoint a minister of hospitality.

As one of the biggest industries in the UK and one of the biggest employers across any sector, it is high time that the industry had a significant voice within the government.

The perception, support and understanding of the industry is much needed and, as our industry bounces back in the months ahead, we need to be represented to allow business to flourish, tackle the underlying issues and improve the perception of our industry as an employer of choice and as a profession.

We need to be at the front of the queue when decisions are being made that impact hospitality and tourism. And with the impact of Brexit ahead of us, there has never been a better time for our industry to secure a minister of hospitality to represent us at the highest levels.

Nisha Katona, founder, Mowgli

Nisha Katona
Nisha Katona

Hospitality is the sector upon whom the blows of the last year fell uniquely hard leaving it depleted, beleaguered and forced to reassert its very existence from a buckled kneeling position.

It is the employer of millions; the incubator industry for our next generation; the great generator of revenue that gives our high streets a pulse and communities a reason for being.

Unmoored and staggering, never has an industry so needed ministerial representation. Not just for our protection and unification, but to broker sensible, quick and collaborative solutions.

A minister for hospitality would form that crucial link in the chain between government and operators, decisively dragging our industry out of the mire and helping hereafter to yoke us hopefully and purposefully, to an economy straining to recover.

Tom Kerridge, chef and restaurateur

Tom Kerridge
Tom Kerridge

One of the biggest things that we have learned from 2020 is the fact that no matter how big the hospitality sector is, we have no voice or representation when it comes to our position within government.

We have found ourselves high and dry, alone, vulnerable and weak.

This is the opportunity and the right time to create not just a minister for hospitality but a ministry.

Any industry that employs so many people and is as integral as the engine room for pulling this country out of the depths of coronavirus, Brexit and the recession, must have its own focal point that pierces to the heart of Westminster.

Andrew Stembridge, executive director, Iconic Luxury Hotels

Andrew Stembridge
Andrew Stembridge

It had long been felt that government was oblivious to the importance of the hospitality sector to the UK economy. Never was this more evident than when you consider the lack of value seemingly attributed to the professions' reliance on its European workforce within the context of Brexit, many of whom form the backbone of most hospitality businesses in the UK.

Furthermore, it is without doubt that questionable decision-making has virtually decimated the hospitality industry throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, if there is one positive outcome of Covid-19, it has been to increase public awareness of the hospitality sector and the role it plays in our society. Although decision-making continues to be ill-considered – with the exception of possibly the Job Retention Scheme – our beloved industry has never been so frequently referenced in Parliament.

We need to use this perfect storm to frame the debate and ensure that once and for all hospitality gets the representation it warrants and so rightly deserves.

This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

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