Is the government listening to the hotel industry?

Is the government listening to the hotel industry?

The hotel industry represents an area with the potential to drive economic growth and create much-needed jobs in the UK.

This is the opinion of many of those who work in the sector on a day-to-day basis, but it is up to the government to recognise the potential and meet the industry's needs in order to unlock it.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), said: "The UK cannot compete without greater government understanding of the competitive barriers that are holding back growth. More important, those barriers must be broken down. At present, the industry is just fighting to maintain its share of the market, with little hope of significant growth."

It is not as if those in the hotel sector are hiding its light under a bushel and refusing to co-operate, as they want the industry to help the UK move forward and capitalise on its assets too.

The hot topic of the government and its seemingly closed ears to the voices of the hotel industry came under close scrutiny at the first summit to be hosted by the BHA recently. As we explored in a recent article there are a number of organisations set up to represent the industry, with the BHA being just one of them. At the summit, which saw a number of high profile figures attending, strategies were discussed about the best way to get the government to sit up and listen.

The BHA has suggested that the best way to achieve such a goal is to align the hospitality industry with that of tourism and present a united front to the government. And this is exactly what it intends to do. But what exactly are the areas that need to be addressed? Well if you take the main areas of debate from the summit, then it appears they are as follows.

The government needs to make the hospitality and tourism industries more of a priority and display decisive leadership in these areas. Red tape is an area which has come under great scrutiny as a whole by the current government, but more could be done within hospitality to facilitate growth. Areas such as VAT and the infrastructure surrounding airports and visa controls are seen as a hindrance to many in the sector and by tackling legislation holding back positive changes the government could do a lot to help boost the economy.

2012 has been much touted as the year in which tourism in the UK will blossom due to large national events, but this must not be allowed to encourage a complacent attitude. Such a level of potential should not be allowed to pass by without being capitalised upon as the long term legacy of this year for hoteliers could easily be one of a missed opportunity.

But what can the industry do in order to make a difference to government thinking? Well it can present a united front and club together in order to create a bigger force to be reckoned with. Is it the BHA which represents the best organisation to head up such a lobbying force - perhaps, but one thing is for certain - something needs to be done at both ends with the industry making the government understand its significance.

The final point to come out of the summit was exactly that - the industry must advertise what it has got on offer, especially in terms of jobs, youth employment and the availability of apprenticeships.
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