The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has welcomed election manifestos from several of the key political parties acknowledging the role of tourism and hospitality as a key contributor to the UK economy. This is a significant achievement for the thousands of businesses and three-million-strong workforce across the industry who have been campaigning alongside the BHA to bring about a better understanding and recognition of the industry’s contribution.
The Conservative Party manifesto pays tribute to the industry as a supporter of three million jobs and references “the value of the tourism industry to the UK economy”. The document promises to speed up the visa process for tourists, invest in transport infrastructure as well as stepping up its efforts to recruit more apprentices to the sector.
The Labour Party manifesto makes reference to promoting access to green spaces in local planning and making them an important part of “our thriving tourism industry”. The BHA has welcomed the commitment to making a swift decision on the Davies Commission review to expand aviation capacity in the UK.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to strengthening the Hospitality and Tourism Council, with business and culture secretaries as co-chairs. The manifesto also pledges to give higher status to tourism within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and to give local tourism authorities decision-making powers to promote tourism propositions.
The Green Party’s manifesto states its support for the BHA’s long-running campaign to cut tourism VAT. The BHA has been actively lobbying all political parties to lower the tourism VAT from 20% to 5% in line with competitor destinations within the European Union. Reducing tourism VAT would help attract domestic and international holidaymakers as well as allow businesses to increase investment. The reduction would also help support struggling tourist destinations, especially coastal areas.
Welsh national party Plaid Cymru has also made a commitment to reduce tourism VAT in their manifesto, pledging to make “holidays at home more affordable and attract foreign tourists”.
The UKIP manifesto, meanwhile, calls for the creation of a dedicated Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, to be attached to the Cabinet Office.
Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the BHA, said: “For the first time ever, tourism and hospitality has been recognised as a key contributor to jobs and the economy across the manifestos of several key parties. This is a small triumph, not only for the BHA, but for the three million people working in our industry who together make a significant contribution to the country’s GDP.
“This is just the first step. Together with our members, we are calling for all political parties to work with us to support policies which unlock our industry’s significant potential to create more careers, apprenticeships, jobs, exports, growth and prosperity. We urge them to support policy reforms for growth and prosperity for all UK regions. And we have a clear message for our next prime minister – there is an urgency to ensure the continuation and strengthening of the Tourism Industry Council after its first year. It is imperative that we expand its influence by having the prime minister as its leader, uniting all ministers towards ensuring that cohesive policies drive growth and opportunity for the people of the United Kingdom.”
As well as creating policies which support tourism directly, issues set out in the political manifestos relating to the transport network, technology, national minimum wage, the arts sector, agriculture, churches and green belt property can all have an impact on UK tourism and hospitality.