Hospitality & Tourism Summit 2014 - new Tourism Council

Changing the face of the tourism industry – the Hospitality & Tourism Summit

The Minister of State for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, Helen Grant MP, chose the third Hospitality & Tourism Summit last week in London, to announce the launch of a new Tourism Council.

For the first time, and thanks in large part to lobbying by BHA’s Ufi Irbrahim, the Government and the tourism industrywill join forces to promote jobs, drive economic growth and tackle some of the major issues facing the industry – not least cutting the VAT on accommodation and attractions.

Chaired by Helen Grant, the council’s board will comprise eight representatives from the hospitality industry including Simon Vincent, President EMEA of Hilton Worldwide, VisitEngland’s James Berresford, Patrick Dempsey OBE, Managing Director of Whitbread Hotels, Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, Peter Suddock CEO Dudley Zoo, along with Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise and others.

“We need to maximise the value of this industry with a joined-up approach,” Ms Grant told the Summit. “This council will be aimed at improving skills and driving growth. Itwill have the capability to bring about a step change to the industry. With a tourism spend of £22bn, tourism is vital to the UK and we (the Government) need to hear what the industry has to say.

“We need to dispel the myth that a hospitality job is just a starter job. I had a job as a waitress at an Indian restaurant in Cumbria – you can go on to valuable careers! We have to reskill and change the perceptions of the industry – this is a career industry, not just a job.”

The UK tourism spend has grown 13 per cent according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organisation World Tourism Barometer, it’s part of a global industry with export earnings generated by international tourism topping almost $1.4 trillion last year, that’s an eye-watering $3.8 billion per day.

In the UK, tourism is worth almost £127bn and has created one third of all new jobs in the past three years. In coastal destinations – the NCTA’s focus – tourism contributes £11.6bn to the treasury’s coffers and is a key source of employment.

So it’s good news but small wonder that the Government is listening more closely to tourism representatives. The Council’s first meeting is on 10 July. Expect VAT, airport expansion and Air Passenger Duty to be on the agenda.

But, as importantly, it will be good to see job creation, apprenticeships and training strongly featured, as the public face of the industry changes.

And maybe one day there’ll also be a Secretary of State with Tourism in their job title.

By Sheron Crossman