BHA: ‘Our industry can be a powerful voice’

The British Hospitality Association is urging its members to lobby MPs during the general election campaign on the issues of European Union workers and business costs.

The Prime Minister yesterday announced a snap general election which will take place on Thursday June 8.

Theresa May told the BBC she had “reluctantly” changed her mind on the issue recently, and claimed the early election will help the UK make a success of Brexit and provide long-term certainty.

The BHA said: “As the fourth largest industry in the UK, employing as a whole 4.5 million people, our industry can be a powerful voice over the course of the election campaign.

“Hospitality and tourism makes a critical contribution to the UK economy and our reputation as an open and welcoming destination for both tourists and business visitors.”

The BHA will publish its Hospitality and Tourism Manifesto of policy recommendations, and will review the party manifestos when they are published.

Ufi Ibrahim (pictured), BHA chief executive, commented: “The hospitality and tourism industry…has depended on the 700,000 EU workers for much of its growth.

“We look forward to hearing from all parties how they propose to handle the transition to a more home-grown workforce.

“We have already presented the government with a 10-year plan to employ more UK workers, but a report we commissioned from KPMG states we need a minimum of 60,000 EU workers a year in the short term.

“As the industry is facing a perfect storm in terms of the costs of operating – such a high tourism VAT and business rate increases – we look forward to supporting all BHA members engage their local election candidates to secure broad cross-party support on these issues in the next Parliament.”

BHA members can contact for BHA support.

• Bernard Donoghue, chairman of the Tourism Alliance and director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said: “The general election is about more than Brexit. It’s also about transport infrastructure, VAT, education, our place in the world and our international competitiveness.

“All of the parties’ manifestos must commit to, and be explicit about positive growth strategies for UK tourism – our fifth biggest industry and third largest employer.

“The Tourism Alliance has just published our strategy for sustainable growth – it is essentially our manifesto and we shall be ensuring that all those who are creating the party manifestos know what our industry can do for all parts of the UK.”

Deirdre Wells, UKinbound chief executive, commented: “UKinbound is committed to ensuring that the UK’s tourism industry keeps going from strength to strength and we look forward to working with the new government after the general election to progress our key priorities for the industry.

“These include: a new Sector Deal for tourism; ensuring that we have an immigration system flexible to business needs; continued access to the Open Skies Agreement; a strong welcoming narrative and visa-free travel between the UK and the EU.”

The ability to hold a general election is subject to a two-thirds vote of the House of Commons, on which MPs will vote today.