Hospitality industry needs more government breaks

The hospitality industry would benefit financially from lowering VAT, speeding up visa applications and removing red tape, the chairman of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has said.

Speaking at the Annual Hotel Conference in Manchester, Christopher Davy insisted these steps were necessary for the hospitality sector to fulfil its duty as the UK’s “fifth-largest industry”.

His comments follow the publication of a report that claims the industry has the potential to create 236,000 jobs in the UK by 2015.

Removing these barriers would enable the UK to hit these targets, suggested Davy, as they would benefit anything from a conference venue in London to function venues in local towns.

“Our industry doesn’t want government handouts, but we do want the government to help us by removing some of the barriers to growth,” he said, reports Big Hospitality.

On VAT, Davy said that the UK needs to be competitive with the rest of Europe. He highlighted the fact that there are only two countries in the whole of Europe paying higher rates than the UK: Denmark and Lithuania.

“If we could reduce VAT to five per cent that would bring real growth and we are in talks with ministers on how we can do that,” he said.

Visa control procedures should also be relaxed he said. In 2009 there were 58,000 cancelled trips because visas were either rejected or took too long to process.

However, progress is being made on cutting red tape. Davy additionally revealed via that the government has been successfully lobbied into including hotels in the Enterprise Investment Scheme, from which they were previously excluded.

“From the 6th April 2012, hotels will be able to apply to the scheme which is good news for medium sized businesses and their investors,” said the chairman.