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The Coalition Government one year on – what the hoteliers think

19 May 2011
The Coalition Government one year on – what the hoteliers think

Among the first acts of David Cameron's premiership was a speech on the great value of the tourism industry to the UK economy. So is he helping or hindering? This is what the hoteliers think

John Brennan
John Brennan
We worry about the shape and scale of the recovery

John BrennanChief executive, Jurys Inns

The Government talked about initiatives around marketing, job creations, reducing VAT and changing the visa rules relative to Chinese and other international visitors, but I'm not aware of any specific proposals that will address those areas.

We are seeing the growing domestic tourism dynamic which they talked about. Hotels on the coast are doing well, and we're seeing a lot of domestic tourism in London and some of the other provincial cities that's a positive; but outside of London things have certainly been impacted by the scale of the Government's austerity measures.

The worry for all of us is what shape and scale the recovery will have over the next six months. We had growth rates out last week which were certainly on the lower end of expectations, 0.5% versus what I think people were hoping for - something around 0.9% - which really indicates the economy is not re-growing that much.

Jeremy Rata
Jeremy Rata
Could do so much better

Jeremy RataManaging director, Bovey Castle, Devon

I am disappointed with what this Government has achieved. As my headmaster put on my school reports, "Could do so much better"! My business is keeping pace with last year - just, but no thanks to any Government action.

The goodwill they had at the beginning has been lost. They seem to have alienated the BHA, with no actions backing up their words, they have failed to bring people with them and already seem to be moribund and riven with in-fighting.

If I ran my business the way the Government ran its, then I would be bankrupt.

What this country really needs is a benign dictatorship, which will restore pride in our country, care for the weakest, eliminate waste, focus on what counts, get rid of what doesn't and deliver what is needed. Democracy has little relevance to my business, so why does it have any place in Government?

Andrew Stembridge
Andrew Stembridge
a struggle to find British staff

Andrew StembridgeManaging director, Chewton Glen, Hampshire

There is undoubtedly more leadership than we ever saw from Gordon Brown, but despite some positive rumbles from David Cameron about the importance of tourism there has been no evidence of anything concrete so far. Indeed, tourism budgets have been cut.

The rise in VAT has been a fiasco and does nothing to help business, not to mention the internal administrative costs. The withdrawal of funding for diplomas is disappointing, especially for hospitality.

The 1% increase in national insurance this April and yet another minimum wage increase this coming October will put even more pressure on small businesses.

Despite rising unemployment we still struggle to find sufficient numbers of British staff who are willing and able to work in our industry, and hence we rely on overseas staff a lot. The changes to the tier system have further complicated this process.

Mark Godfrey
Mark Godfrey
Pay more attention to the regions

Mark GodfreyManaging director, Harbour Hotels

It was a great start to the new world of a coalition when the prime minister recognised the industry and the opportunities it can provide for the regeneration of the economy.

Then it was music to our ears that a tourism minister had been appointed - and from Weston-super-Mare, a South-west seaside resort in need of support.

However, the recent rejection by the Regional Growth Fund of VisitEngland's £29m bid for domestic tourism promotion was big mistake. Royal weddings and Olympics are great for London but will do nothing for tourism in the regions, which is exactly where help is needed.

We need to encourage businesses to invest in growth and in employment and training. Obtaining planning permission needs to be easier, the Government should reinstate the Hotels Buildings Allowances and help small operators to grow and be profitable.

Address the dreadful employment laws

Kit Chapman,Owner, Castle hotel, Taunton

Small businesses like the Castle represent the backbone of the hospitality industry, and the Government likes to tie us up in sticky red tape, of which employment regulations are typical.

The one thing the Government needs to do is address the dreadful employment laws. The red tape in this area that my team has to tackle is so onerous. As a small business we don't have an HR department, and the wasteful, lengthy, tortuous process we have to go through when dealing with disciplinary proceedings or redundancies is horrendous. It really ties up senior managers. It is also often very costly, as we have to employ lawyers to ensure we do everything properly.

This Government is no different from any other over the past 35 years. It pays lip service to the tourism industry and is doing very little to encourage tourism to this country.

How do you think the Coalition Government is performing for hospitality? Tell us atTable Talk.

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