York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s Hospitality Forum journeyed to Westminster this week to meet with Government ministers and a cross-party group of the region’s MPs to discuss the sector’s future.
The Chamber delegation met with tourism minister Sir John Whittingdale and business and trade minister Kevin Hollinrake, as well as York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, York Central MP Racheal Maskell, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones and Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith in the House of Commons to highlight the sector’s challenges and strengths.
In particular, the Chamber impressed the need for businesses large and small in the hospitality sector to be able to hold on to more of their cash in order to preserve and invest in their companies through a more progressive VAT tax structure and interventions in utility overheads.
Having spent the past several weeks engaging in roundtable events and market analysis, the Chamber has accumulated a real sense of what the prevailing mood in the region’s hospitality sector looks like, with overheads such as tax and utilities being the chief concern.
Hospitality is a key sector for North Yorkshire, employing more than 45,000 people and with GVA valued at more than £970 million.
The combination of the pandemic, inflation and economic instability have taken a heady toll on this much-valued sector. In some cases, increases of more than 300 per cent are being seen.
York & North Chamber of Commerce earlier this year took the step of forming a Hospitality Forum specifically designed to champion the sector’s strengths and highlight its challenges. It is the only forum dedicated to the hospitality sector in all of the 53 Chambers of Commerce nationally.
It is our view that, in order to survive and thrive, the hospitality sector needs a stable and well-run economy. Inflation is making forward planning and investment decisions almost impossible, particularly for smaller businesses. And while forecasts predict inflation is likely to fall sharply in the coming months, increased costs are likely here to stay for the sector.
For these reasons, York & North Yorkshire Chamber is preparing a series of asks for both national and local Government so that the industry does not face insurmountable challenges.
Philip Bolson, chair of the Hospitality Forum, said: “Hospitality is the lifeblood of North Yorkshire’s economy and a sector that means the world to thousands of people.
“Therefore, it was very gratifying to see some of the most powerful and influential people in the country take an interest in its strengths and challenges. The level of engagement shown my ministers and MPs was highly encouraging and has given us fresh impetus to keep making the case for more favourable trading conditions.
“We now intend to go away and come back with further data to steelman our case and ensure the sector has the bright future it deserves.
“With many businesses unable to get out of deals done at the peak of the crisis in 2022 or about to see pre-existing more reasonable deals come to an end, a cliff edge now approaching in terms of costs.
“As such, there is no time to lose.”
Sarah Czarnecki, vice president of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “West and North Yorkshire Chamber is proud to have established the first Chamber Hospitality Forum in the country.
“Being given the opportunity to take hospitality business views to Westminster to meet with ministers and local MPs has been a crucial step in our quest to ensure that the industry is being represented.
“We are looking forward to continuing these discussions and have commitment from Westminster representatives to this.”
Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, said: “The meeting was a great opportunity to discuss the aims and objectives of the York Hospitality Forum and allow the Chamber of Commerce’s representatives to raise their core concerns with the Minister’s responsible for the health of the sector and other North Yorkshire MPs.
“Hospitality and tourism are two interconnected sectors that are so important to our local visitor economy and provide employment opportunities, transferable skills and enjoyment for residents and visitors. These sectors have faced a uniquely challenging period over the last few years as a result of COVID, labour shortages and the rise in the cost of living, therefore the importance of a forum to raise these concerns with elected representative is a fantastic step in the right direction.
“I am grateful for the time and insight provided by the Ministers and representatives from the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and I look forward to many more conversations in the future, especially as York’s devolution deal is enacted next year.”
For further information please contact W&NY Chamber’s head of policy and representation Mark Casci on email@example.com