Jurys Inn hotel group and owner Amaris Hospitality have launched a report into the hospitality sector calling on the next UK government to pursue a pro-tourism and hospitality strategy.
Entitled Driving UK Tourism: Sustaining growth in 2017 & beyond, the report draws insights from 25 hospitality executives and advisors representing tourism boards, trade associations, financial institutions, legal and business consultancies, membership organisations, OTAs and hospitality companies. The findings were presented to a further 16 industry experts in a round table discussion.
Two in five (40%) industry executives highlighted the need for a clear and cohesive visa strategy as the number one issue facing the industry. One in four (26%) underlined the damage to the UK's reputation in Europe and two thirds (65%) are very concerned that without a pro-tourism and hospitality strategy, the long-term effects of the devalued pound could increase costs, outweighing a boost to visitor numbers.
Additionally, mounting concerns around Brexit are intensifying as the industry faces the possibility of a talent crisis over its reliance on an EU migrant workforce.
As a consequence, the hospitality sector is calling on the next government to set out a clear visa framework and suggests medium-term relief to the industry as it transitions away from a reliance on EU workers as potentially one part of the solution.
However, industry leaders also said this must be part of a wider strategy that considers immigration quotas, fixed-term working visas, student visas and general tourism visas that should seek to open the UK up to new markets.
At the same time, the report calls on the government and hospitality leaders to work together to champion the career opportunities in the sector. Two in three (63%) hospitality leaders surveyed report that they experience "outdated" perceptions of careers in hospitality.
Further recommendations from the round table included addressing tourism VAT, and supporting regional and hub airports with post-Brexit subsidies to incentivise travel to the UK.
Amaris Hospitality chief executive John Brennan said: "It's evident from our research that we are at a crossroads; do we invest for the future and put in place a clear pro-tourism and hospitality strategy that will accelerate the growth of both UK tourism and hospitality, creating new opportunities for hospitality companies to pursue; or will we continue to leave ourselves exposed to consequences of Brexit that threaten to derail the industry. That is why we are calling on the next government to sharpen the industry's competitive edge so that we can play our part in making a success of Brexit."
Jurys Inn managing director Jason Carruthers added: "With hospitality companies up and down the UK now looking to the UK government for answers on the uncertainties for Brexit, we need a response that will breathe a collective sigh of relief across the industry so we can have the confidence to play our part in driving growth and building for the future."
Videos from The Caterer archives