Confidence among UK businesses has hit its lowest level in at least 21 years but the hospitality industry has 'reason to be confident’ as one of the few sectors planning for growth and creating jobs.
Following the latest Business Trends report released today by accountancy firm BDO, the BHA’s chief executive Ufi Ibrahim believes hotels, restaurants and pubs across the country should in fact be encouraged by the successes of last year.
“Twenty twelve was an extraordinary year for the UK and for the hospitality industry,” Ibrahim told BigHospitality. “Exceptional events including the Jubilee and Olympics affected business performance at varying degrees.
“While not all hospitality and tourism-related sectors saw a short-term gain, there’s an opportunity to reap rewards in the medium-term and there are plenty of reasons to feel that confidence for the year ahead and prospects are encouragingly positive.
“ONS (Office of National Statistics) research showed that our industry created a third of all new jobs in the UK last year. At a time when the economy continues to be constrained, hospitality and tourism is planning for growth – pledging to create thousands of jobs over the next three years as part of the Big Hospitality Conversation for jobs campaign.”
BDO's Optimism Index fell to 88.9 in January - well below the score of 95 needed to indicate growth and the lowest level recorded since the survey was launched in 1992.
Peter Hemington, a partner at BDO, said: "It seems the damaging effects on businesses of five years' zigzagging economic growth has left them wary of making concrete plans for expansion and resigned to the 'new normal' of economic stagnation.
"To end this cycle, it is imperative that the government implements plans to expedite growth.”
Despite fears of an uneventful 2013 being a dead year for business, a number of leading hospitality and tourism bodies have given reasons for restaurant, hotel and bar operators to remain optimistic, insisting that the next 12 months could be even more successful than the last.
This optimism was seconded by national tourism agency VisitBritain, which predicts that the volume of international tourists to Britain will grow by 3 per cent next year, meaning almost one million extra visitors will come to the UK.