With Hugh Robertson promoted to the role of Minister for Sport and Tourism in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, the British Hospitality Association’s chief executive Ufi Ibrahim insists there are still ‘critical barriers to growth’ which must be removed by Government in order for the industry to prosper.
In a wide-ranging, exclusive video interview with BigHospitality, Ibrahim pointed out that, while the Government is offering a helping hand in some areas such as marketing, more attention must be placed on visa requirements, air passenger duty tax and ‘uncompetitive’ rates of VAT.
She said: “Marketing is important but you can spend millions and millions of pounds marketing your destination, but unless you actually make it easy for people to actually access the country – let’s take Chinese visitors for example – if they can’t access the country because of bureaucratic visa requirements, then we’re uncompetitive.
“In terms of Government doing more for this sector, I think as much of the attention which is being given to marketing the destination, there has to be the same level of attention given to policies which are acting as barriers to accessibility for visitors coming in and also looking at our price competitiveness where we are affected by an uncompetitive rate of VAT, coupled with air passenger duty tax which really affects our demand for the sector.”
She also reinstated her views expressed at industry event The Big Conversation earlier in the year; that the Government and businesses must work together to better support apprentices, tackle youth unemployment and structure work experience placements more effectively.
No VAT cut…
Just over a month ago, BigHospitality spoke to former Tourism Minister Penrose in this exclusive video interview. Penrose ruled out making a VAT cut for the hospitality industry a long-term ambition for the Government and said that businesses still need to show why a cut would be so beneficial.
He added that the Treasury receives a number of professional proposals from various industries promising 'jam tomorrow' if they receive a tax cut. He also argued the hospitality industry was yet to show the Chancellor why its cut was different and would be more beneficial to the wider economy than other sectors also lobbying for tax relief.
In her response to Penrose’s comments, Ibrahim added: “There are many factors of our businesses which we have control over directly – but there are other things which affect our businesses and the ability for our businesses to be successful or not successful, such as policy, regulation, visa policy, investment in airport and marketing – a series of regulations which absolutely affect our ability to move forward within a globally competitive market.”
Ibrahim concluded the interview with her own set of top tips for hospitality businesses going forward after the mega-events of 2012.
- Don’t miss out
- Get engaged
- Make sure that you're playing your role
“It will be the collective efforts of every single individual and business that will make the difference,” she said.