Travelodge chief: Make hospitality a priority

Various sectors have suffered to differing degrees since the recession bit and, while the hospitality sector has done reasonably well, the head of one of the UK's leading hotel chains feels more can be done.

According to the chief executive of Travelodge, Grant Hearn, there can be a great deal more done within the sector to create further hospitality work opportunities.

The hotel group carried out a survey in which it was revealed the sector had outperformed the general, wider economy over the last five years.

Indeed, it was at the forefront in terms of employment numbers thanks to an increased influx of visitors due to a series of events, notably London 2012 and the Queen's Jubilee.

As a follow up to the report, Mr Hearn has penned a letter to the business secretary Vince Cable in which the Travelodge head has urged him to give more credence to the sector and take full advantage of its growth.

Not only could this help the country's wider economy, it could help create numerous employment opportunities too.

Among the list of points that Mr Hearn believes needs to be put in place is an increased focus on tourism as a whole and moving it from the Department of Culture Media and Sports to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

He also believes a tourism taskforce needs to be set up in order to fully drive the issue forward and get the most out of a growing industry.

In his letter, he spells out exactly what the tourism industry needs from the government.

"Our report confirms UK tourism has successfully weathered the recession to date and outperformed other key sectors which is great news. However, as one of Britain’s biggest business sectors it deserves the chance to unlock its true potential," he says.

"We have a real opportunity within our grasp which can play a significant part in helping our economy to recover; our lack of immediate action is costing jobs, growth and investment."

"It is in our national economic interest and this has to happen now. We need to be treated as a serious business sector."

Mr Hearn also believes that practical improvements to make life easier for hotels, and make job creation more likely for potential staff, need to be put in place sooner rather than later.

These include tax breaks for businesses and a simplification of the visa process for foreign tourists who may be put off visiting the UK.

If he gets his wish, which is to have a meeting with Mr Cable and his department, then it may well prove to be a milestone moment for the hospitality sector in the UK.

Not only will it make life easier for firms and boost the tourism industry, it is also likely to increase the number of job opportunities available.

When you consider that many have suggested the country is on the brink of a triple dip recession, it could turn out to be an ideal antidote to the economic gloom in the UK at the minute.

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