UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has called for additional Government support to help safeguard the sector’s recovery and rebuild resilience in the form of a permanently lower VAT for hospitality and tourism.
The suggestion was made during the association’s annual conference with focused on the theme of ‘recovery and beyond’, where it discussed the challenges ahead for the industry.
Some insights made at the conference highlighted opportunities available to the sector over the weeks and months ahead. For restaurants and bars this included a new hybrid model of working from home which offered opportunities for ‘premiumisation’ in suburban locations.
Meanwhile, the UKH said the hotel market has had an encouraging recovery, but maintains there is still a “significant amount’ of work to be done for a full recovery in London.
Delegates heard from keynote speaker hospitality minister Paul Scully MP, as well as Ian King, host of the eponymous daily business programme on Sky News; Karl Chessell, director at CGA; Alex Robinson, senior manager at STR; and a panel of sector leaders.
Paul Scully, minister for consumer affairs, SMEs, labour markets and London, promised that the Government will “continue to listen and engage with the sector”, acknowledging that hospitality’s recovery was “critical” to underpinning the UK’s wider economic recovery.
He also extolled the recently published hospitality strategy as a blueprint for future relationships and dialogue between Government and businesses across all sectors.
Nicholls said: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our sector. The last 18 months have seen hospitality lose over two thirds of its normal revenue, 10% of its businesses and headcount fall by almost 30%. But it is also true that the situation could have been so much worse and the team at UKHospitality has worked tirelessly, 24/7, to secure the support the sector needed from the Government.
“We know it has not been enough to offset the losses but it has undoubtedly saved jobs and livelihoods. Crucially, that support and engagement is continuing beyond reopening and into recovery as we have measures to rebuild resilience.”
She added: “We will aim to consolidate the profile the crisis has given the sector as a critical part of the UK economy and the perception of the role we can play as a vital partner with the Government to deliver on the broader agenda needed to help UK Plc recover, build back better and stronger.”