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BHA

Sadiq Khan

BHA criticises mayor Sadiq Khan’s ‘unfair’ London ‘bed tax’

978 434 Daniel Fountain

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has criticised plans announced by the Greater London Assembly (GLA) to introduce a ‘bed tax’ for hotel rooms in the capital.

The London Assembly Economy Committee met this week to further discuss the tax which experts predict could add up to £364 million a year to the UK economy.

The plans were first introduced in January, described as a “Berlin-style tax of 5% of the room rate per night”. It could potentially increase accommodation prices by £3.40.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said: “The London tourism tax will unfairly penalise hard-pressed Britons, who make up the overwhelming proportion of visitors to London. Sadiq Khan has proclaimed “London is Open”, yet is backing a tax on anyone coming for a weekend break in the capital, professionals going about their business and holidaymakers with their families.

“It’s a tax on fun and business. This isn’t just about top end hotels, it’s about hard working people on budget breaks too. This levy threatens our industry, which is the lifeblood of the UK’s economy, employing over half a million people in London, and generating an estimated £57bn to the UK’s GDP.”

She added: “Hospitality and tourism are highly price sensitive, and domestic and international visitors have significant destination choice, as do business tourism, event organisers and investors. Domestic tourists in the UK already pay one of the highest rates of tax in Europe and the World Economic Forum currently ranks the UK 135 out of 136 countries in terms of tourism tax competitiveness.”

British Hospitality Association responds to UK's EU migrants policy

British Hospitality Association responds to UK’s EU migrants policy

750 467 Daniel Fountain

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has released a response to Theresa May and the government’s plans to ‘assess the economic contribution of EU migrants’ in the UK.

The Home Office launched an independent review into the impact of EU migrants on the UK economy after suggestions that new rules could be made for different industries.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: “Over 700,000 Europeans work in hospitality and tourism and although we are determined to rely less on EU service workers over the coming years it will take time. In March KPMG published a report, commissioned by the BHA, which showed that in the event of free movement ending and no successor regime being put in its place the industry would need to recruit an additional 65,000 UK workers each year in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers to replace churn and to power growth.

“Our industry recognises that immigration policy needs to change however at a time when unemployment is at its lowest since 1975 we will still need access to the European workforce.

“The BHA has been campaigning for several months for an enlarged role of the Migration Advisory Committee and welcome the government commissioning the MAC to undertake a detailed study on EU workers with businesses throughout the country. We believe this should go further and the MAC should advise government on the number of visas for all strategically important sectors including hospitality and tourism, the fourth largest industry in the UK. Britain needs services workers as well as scientists and engineers and we look forward to having a serious dialogue with the Home Secretary as we get into the detail of a new immigration law,” she added.

Queen's Speech - BHA opinion on Brexit

Brexit Opinion: BHA responds to Queen’s Speech

1000 593 Daniel Fountain

In a pared-back Queen’s Speech on 21 June, Theresa May’s Government set out its legislative agenda for the next two years.

The speech focused on Britain’s future outside the European Union with a focus on industries such as agriculture and fishing, along with the Great Repeal Bill and an Immigration Bill. A Travel Protection Bill will be introduced to protect holidaymakers by updating the UK’s financial protection scheme for holidays.

The speech opened with a promise to work with business to build consensus on Britain’s future outside the EU.

Ufi Ibrahim, the Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: “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.”

www.bha.org.uk

Brexit is impacting the hospitality industry

Brexit A Year On – Opinion: ‘Perfect storm’ on the way for UK hospitality industry

750 453 Daniel Fountain

Heidrick & Struggles , a premier provider of executive search, leadership consulting and culture shaping worldwide, spoke to Chairmen and Chief Executives from some of the biggest organisations in the industry, representing businesses with revenues of over £40 billion and employing more than a million people across the UK. While views on their specific business or sector could vary, the overarching theme was one of significant concern.

The report by Heidrick & Struggles, in partnership with the British Hospitality Association, found a range of issues worrying industry leaders. Most notably, rising costs are high up the agenda, with the fall in the pound following Britain’s decision to leave the EU having a huge impact on the cost of key imports that is yet to be felt by consumers. One CEO complained about the cost of butter, with an increased cost to her business of 46%, while another was seeing meat costs rise by 29%. This will mean higher bills for diners and holidaymakers, but according the majority of CEOs, consumers are yet to react negatively to price rises because the majority of these costs are yet to hit them.

Businesses in the sector are anticipating a recruitment gap of over a million jobs by 2029, according to a report by the BHA and KPMG earlier this year, which would mean the industry would need to recruit 60,000 UK workers in addition to sustained recruitment of 200,000 more per annum to meet the demands of growth. Filling these openings would likely be impossible without hiring migrant workers. Firms are heavily reliant on European workers, with half of CEOs reporting their workforce as 25-50%European, with more than a third of those businesses hiring EU citizens to fill 50-75% of their workforce.

According to the report, post-Brexit the hospitality industry pay bill will increase by £1.4 billion in the first year, and could rise by just over £1 billion a year over three years, amounting to a total cost of £3.2 billion. Wider economic changes are also adding to the pressure for the hospitality and leisure sector as business rates rise, and the apprenticeship levy and pensions auto-enrolment begin.

Ben Twynam, Partner at Heidrick & Struggles, said: “We have seen real concern from the most senior people across the hospitality industry, not only about talent and other Brexit-related concerns, but due to a number of headwinds facing the industry. With the cost of imports continuing to rise, increasing prices for customers and an expectation of decreasing consumer confidence in 2018 and 2019, there are a number of challengers facing businesses across the sector. While industry leaders are relatively confident about the remainder of 2017, they are far more pessimistic about the two years thereafter, when the real impact of Brexit will come to fruition.”

Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: “It is no exaggeration to say that hospitality and tourism face a perfect storm which is well articulated by our industry’s top executives in this report – a looming recruitment crisis caused by cuts to come in EU immigration, rising costs on both materials and labour, increased business rates and a tax regime that favours our European competitors. We have been urgently discussing these matters with the last government and will do so with the next. Our 10-year strategy to encourage more UK workers into the industry has been well received and we have confidence that with government support we can continue to grow what is the fourth largest industry in the UK.”

The hospitality and leisure industry is the fourth-largest employer in the UK, with 4.5 million people working in more than 180,000 businesses across the country.

British Hospitality Association statement on the referendum

British Hospitality Association: Statement on EU referendum decision

1000 450 Daniel Fountain

In the light of the result of the EU Referendum vote, Ufi Ibrahim, the CEO of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), has released the following short statement on behalf of the Association’s membership.

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the BHA said: “The EU referendum question represented a profound moment for the future of our industry. Hospitality and tourism benefits from a flourishing economy and any level of uncertainty will have an impact. The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union is the beginning of a process which could take years.”

“On Monday 27th June the British Hospitality Association is convening its members, industry and political leaders to discuss economic and political ramifications in the short term. We will be framing a plan to ensure that we have a seat at the table on all negotiations including taxation, immigration and regulation.”

“As we go through this process, the BHA will call upon every politician in this country to do all they can to guard the strong reputation that our industry has built representing a hospitable and welcoming country all around the world. Our industry is one of the key drivers of exports, prosperity and the fourth largest employer supporting 4.5 million jobs.”

 

www.bha.org.uk

BHA

BHA calls for immediate CMA inquiry into online travel agents

929 407 Daniel Fountain

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) welcomed the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union Report calling for an urgent review of online travel agents.

She said: “The BHA welcomes the House of Lords Report which recommends greater accountability and transparency of online travel agents. These OTAs wield vast power and hold our industry hostage by commanding punitive rates of commission. We are pleased that this influential committee is proposing Europe wide steps to enable our industry to challenge anti-competitive online practices when they arise. The BHA calls upon on the government and policy makers in the European Commission to support our lobbing in this area and get engaged – this is a significant step forward for our industry and we want to see the momentum continue.”

Background

The Report by the House of Lords Select Committee is called Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market. It is a response to the EU Commission consultation on how the largest online platforms use their market power and whether current regulation and competition law is effective in the digital economy.

The British Hospitality Association has called for:

  • an outright ban on rate parity clauses – which prevent hotels from offering lower rates than those on the online booking sites where they are listed. This practice impacts directly on consumers since it means less competitive pricing with similar room rates offered by online travel agencies and hospitality venues across the board. Rate parity clauses are already illegal in France and were found to be anti- competitive in cases brought against Booking.com and HRS in Germany;
  • more effective and speedier methods for resolving competition and consumer protection issues and codes of practice for online platforms;
  • transparency for consumers in rankings, ratings, reviews.

The Report recommends:

  • critical scrutiny by competition authorities of parity clauses and recommends that the Competition and Markets Authority urgently order a market investigation into the online travel sector;
  • a speedier process for resolving competition law questions, proposing interim measures be used to stop anti – competitive practices, time limits be applied to negotiations and the development of sector based codes of practice;
  • recommends the European Commission amend the Unfair Consumer Practices Directive so that platforms are required to provide the criteria on which they provide ratings and search results and their policies for handling negative reviews, as well as clearly distinguishing between user reviews and paid promotions.

The British Hospitality Association has worked on behalf of the industry to persuade government to take a long, hard look at anti-competitive behaviour in the digital travel sector.

The next step is for the Competition and Markets Authority to adopt the Report’s recommendations to make sure that the travel and hospitality sector is a truly competitive marketplace, which is, after all, in the best interests of the consumer.