Brexit opens up opportunities for hospitality says BHA

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nick Varney of the BHA
Nick Varney of the BHA

Related tags: Bha chairman nick, United kingdom

Britain leaving the EU could have a positive impact on the UK's hospitality and tourism sectors, according to the chairman of the British Hospitality Association (BHA). 

Opening the British Hospitality and Tourism Summit in London yesterday (27 June) BHA chairman Nick Varney was bullish about the results of last week's referendum and said it actually opened up opportunities for the industry. 

"Tourism and leisure can continue to grow under Brexit," he said. "Initially a weaker pound will encourage visitors and also exports will flourish. We should seize the moment and lock in that competitive advantage with a permanent cut to VAT for accommodation, and possibly in the future also for restaurants.

“From a business point of view this was always about currency exchange. A strong pound is not good for British tourism. When it's too strong British people go abroad in greater numbers and the UK is less attractive to foreign tourists. 

“So far we’ve avoided that and it’s a good thing. Once uncertainty dies down British people will be more encouraged to spend more in their country and visitors from Europe will be more likely to come back."

While Varney, also CEO of Merlin Entertainments, had a positive view of the results, economist Andrew Sentance, senior economic adviser at PwC warned of two negatives. 

"The negatives are the instability and lack of confidence and the fact that image of the UK currently, particularly from travellers from Europe, is not a welcoming one." 

The Summit, at The Grange Hotel at St Pauls, saw hundreds of members of the industry come together to talk about its theme Connected for Success. 

Other speakers included Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale, Low Pay Commission chairman David Norgrove and William Hague. 

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