Ufi Ibrahim Chief Executive, British Hospitality Association
In 2011, the BHA sponsored ground-breaking research into the size and value of the hospitality industry to each of the 406 local authority areas in the UK. This information, published in Hospitality: Driving Local Economies (readers can access a full version on the BHA website) has never before been available but it will come as little surprise that the industry emerges as a key driver of almost every local authority area economy in the land.
Using this research, we have launched the BHA’s lobbying campaign to increase the competitiveness of UK tourism. The high rate of VAT in the UK for hotel accommodation, attractions and meals out-of-home, compared
with all but three other of the 27 EU member states, is a cause of great concern. VAT on hotel accommodation in the UK is 20 per cent but France and Germany charge seven per cent, Spain eight per cent, Italy ten per cent.
An independent study by Deloitte for Bourne Leisure and Merlin Entertainments suggests that reducing VAT to five per cent for the industry would create many jobs and would yield a net gain to the Treasury of £2.6bn over ten years.
Our aim now is to continue discussions with HM Treasury but also to ensure that every MP in the country understands this country’s lack of international competitiveness and the importance of hospitality and tourism to his or her local economy. So we are looking for volunteers from the industry to adopt their MP in order to explain to them the job-creating and wealth-generating potential of the hospitality industry in their locality. This is because we want MPs, in turn, to put pressure on the Government to respond to our VAT campaign.
Among the many other issues we are tackling is deregulation. The Tourism Regulation Taskforce – headed by Alan Parker, the BHA’s president – has already submitted a report with over 60 suggestions for cutting back red tape in the tourism and hospitality industry.
We are also working to ensure that Local Enterprise Partnerships, which are replacing Regional Development Agencies, understand the relevance of the hospitality to their area.
Nearer to home for many, we shall continue our discussions with TripAdvisor. There is no doubt that social media is here to stay but TripAdvisor has a responsibility to ensure that what it publishes is honest, fair and accurate,
Finally, this is Olympic year and the industry has a golden opportunity to showcase its talent, its services, and its facilities to the world at large. Let’s take full advantage of this opportunity by providing great service and great value. The eyes of the world will be upon us.
The industry emerges as a key driver of almost every local authority area economy in the land
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