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16 Sep 2015

BY Sophie Griffiths

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Westminster called on to prioritise tourism

The UK government has been urged to recognise tourism as an “economic priority” in the first ever Hospitality and Tourism Lobby Day

Westminster Big Ben

Held on Wednesday, a total of 33 MPs from across the UK took part – including the former Green party leader Caroline Lucas, as well as a mixture of Labour and Conservative politicians.

 

In an independent Oxford Economics study commissioned by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) released to coincide with the event, Nick Varney, chair of the BHA, said: “Set against a backdrop of intense international rivalry, government policy can make or break our ambition. Such an important industry needs and deserves the support of government in both economic and in policy terms.

 

“We know that the prime minister and the chancellor of the exchequer recognise the value of our industry and the jobs we create. We need the UK government to make hospitality and tourism an economic priority, as other countries do – most notably China, the US and across Europe.”

 

The report also urges the government to recognise that a “long-term national strategy for hospitality and tourism is critical”.

 

The BHA – which organised the Hospitality and Tourism Lobby Day – called on the government to speed up the visa application process to encourage more visitors from growth markets such as China.

 

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, told MPs: “Hospitality is a wealth generator across the country, not just London and the south-east, and we can contribute a lot more to this country in new well-paid jobs, exports and increased tax revenue.

 

“But we need government support to fully unleash our industry’s potential; on tourism VAT, on visas, deregulation, aviation capacity and on creating a fair digital marketplace.”

 

The day also included a series of meetings between MPs and hospitality business owners and managers, as well as a briefing session on the BHA’s report, which described the hospitality and tourism industry as a “lynchpin of the UK economy”, as the country’s fourth largest industry, employing 4.49 million people.

 

The report additionally found that the UK is now the eighth largest international tourism destination by visitor numbers, having slipped down the rankings since 2012.

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