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Written by suzie rose

We certainly live in unpredictable and challenging times.

Who would have guessed we would end up with a hung parliament? The result has led to much uncertainty and many questions. What does this mean for the UK hospitality industry and the Brexit negotiations? Is it going to be a hard or soft Brexit? What will happen to the industry’s EU migrant workers? The list is endless.

Well, I cannot offer you answers here and now but come to HOSPACE 2017 on 2 November, when we will know a lot more. At HOSPACE 2017, we have got the same excellent panel of experts, who discussed Brexit at last year’s event. They are returning by popular demand to discuss the issues and possible outcomes at our exciting new central London HOSPACE 2017 venue, The Royal Lancaster. 

We look forward to welcoming back the Brexit panel of Martine Ainsworth-Wells, Head of Destination Engagement, ETOA (European Tour Operators Association); Jeremy Robinson, Partner, Watson Farley Williams; and Mark Essex, Director, Public Policy, KPMG. Keeping them in order and providing the probing questions will be panel chairman Robert Barnard, Partner, BDO, responsible for BDO’s hotel/hospitality consultancy. 

Given the current political and economic uncertainty, one of the best things we can all be doing as an industry, is to give our full support to Ufi Ibrahim and the excellent work she is doing on our behalf at the British Hospitality Association (BHA). As Ufi said, following the pared-back Queen’s Speech, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda for the next two years: “The hospitality and tourism industry, the fourth largest in the UK, looks forward to working with Ministers to build the widest consensus on Britain’s future outside the EU. The Government is already aware of the industry’s vital need to have continuing access, in the short term, to the EU labour market while we encourage more UK workers to take up a career in hospitality and tourism.

“We have also made clear that the National Living Wage should be decided by the Low Pay Commission after 2020.

“The trade bills announced to help British businesses export to markets around the world should also consider that tourism is the UK’s sixth largest export. With this in mind, it is essential that the immigration system encourages, rather than deters, tourism to the UK and allows visa-free access for Europeans.” 

Amen to all that! We are indeed fortunate to have such a proactive and effective trade association as the BHA. 

This is undoubtedly a very challenging time for ensuring tourists feel welcome and safe in our major cities, with the recent terrorist atrocities in Manchester and at the capital’s Finsbury Park and London Bridge. Though it is inevitable these events will have a short-term adverse impact on our industry, there is every reason to be positive about the future. I have no doubt that both Manchester and London will bounce back very quickly. Visitors to these shores can be comforted by the reassuringly quick response time and highly efficient actions of our heroic police force, as well as the insight of our intelligence services. 

We are a very resilient nation with no intention of giving in to terrorism; and always at our best when our backs are against the wall. As in Manchester after the concert explosion, dozens of Londoners and businesses opened their doors to people stranded in the capital after the London Bridge attack. The local Premier Inn did a great job in helping those caught up in it, as did the Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel. Uber was commended for offering free rides in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack, and Black Cabs followed suit in London. It makes you proud to be British!

It would be impossible to write about this without mentioning Hospitality Action and the amazing work that they do for people in need in our industry. Thank goodness for their hard-working team, who I know have been taking a lot more calls from people in our profession caught up in the recent attacks. They are also offering help to any hospitality workers involved in the horrific Grenfell Tower fire. Please take a look at www.hospitalityaction. org.uk to see more about the great work they do.

Next month I will report on my trip to Toronto for HITEC but prior to that, I hope to see many of you at the annual quiz night in London on 6 July and also the annual National Hotel Marketing Conference on 13 July at St George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent.


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