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BHA highlights hospitality’s potential following jobs summit

By Lorraine Heller, 11-Jan-2011

Related topics: Business, Legislation, Restaurants, Hotels, Pubs & Bars, 2011

As some of the UK’s leading businesses yesterday pledged to create more jobs over the coming year, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) again highlighted the importance of the hospitality industry in generating employment.

Meeting in Downing Street for the government’s jobs summit yesterday, 19 businesses pledged to create as many as 40,000 private sector jobs this year in an effort to help rebalance the economy amid extensive public sector cuts.

According to Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, Prime Minister David Cameron’s summit emphasises the importance of the hospitality industry as a jobs creator.

Recognise our potential

“In our report which we published in October – Creating Jobs in Britain – A Hospitality Economy Proposition - we said that hospitality could create 236,000 jobs by 2015 providing the right supportive framework was in place,” she said.

“It’s critically important that government realises that this cannot be achieved alone. We need a positive partnership with government that recognises that policy and regulations can make or break this objective.

“Past governments have just not recognised the industry’s job-creating potential.”

Pro-jobs agenda

At yesterday’s summit, Cameron told business executives that his government would pursue “the most pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda ever unleashed by a government”.

InterContinental Hotels Group, which was amongst attendees at the summit yesterday, said it hoped to create around 1,000 more jobs this year.

Other employment pledges at the meeting came primarily from the retail sector, with Sainsbury’s saying it will create 20,000 jobs over the next three years, while Morrison’s said it hoped to open another 5,700 new posts in the coming year and Tesco predicted 9,000 extra jobs.

Contribution to economy

BHA’s report on the economic contribution of the UK hospitality industry , released in October last year, found that the sector currently employs over 2.4m people and could generate more than 200,000 new jobs over the next five years.

David Michels, the former Hilton chief executive who is president of the BHA, said the government could not ignore the industry’s job creating potential.

He said: “The hospitality economy is one of the country’s key industries with huge growth prospects in jobs. Our task now is to work with government, individual companies, other organisations and agencies to ensure that this growth can be achieved.”

The BHA said the core “hospitality economy” had an estimated turnover of £90bn and contributed an estimated £34bn in gross tax revenues.

The group is now calling for a collaboration with the government to help the hospitality industry reach its potential.