HBAA ‘disappointed’ at lack of measures in Budget to help meetings industry

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Chair of industry association HBAA, Louise Goalen, has called for more investment in hospitality and meetings industry and expressed “disappointment” at the lack of support for the sector in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement.

“We’re disappointed by the absence of specific measures to help the hospitality and meetings industry in the Autumn Budget Statement to address important issues,” Goalen’s statement said. “Financial incentives or assistance for young people to train and to encourage talent in the hospitality and events sector are needed to help reduce youth unemployment and prepare for the declining number of EU workers coming here, a massive and vital resource for this sector. HBAA hoped that the Chancellor would address this in his Autumn Budget Statement. While £20m for further education colleges for T levels is good news, we need more investment in hospitality sector training.

“We need to attract more young people to see the sector as a good career opportunity. Raising personal allowances, and with it the tax threshold, is a step forward, but providing funds to encourage 16- to  19-year-olds to train in the sector would have been a helpful initiative.

“While we welcome the review of tourism and APD taxation in Northern Ireland, we’re disappointed that the review doesn’t cover England, Scotland and Wales as well.”

Surinder Arora, founder and chairman of the Arora Group of hotels, was more optimistic and welcomed measures announced in the Budget “to bolster consumers’ available income, such as the increase to the income tax personal allowance and the raising of the higher tax band threshold, which we would hope should support consumer spend on hospitality and travel.”

Arora added that his group depended on the availability of a skilled workforce in the UK, in particular for its construction arm, Grove Developments and praised the Chancellor’s commitment to fund the development of construction skills across the country, although he admitted there was uncertainty surrounding free-movement of labour in relation to Brexit negotiations.

“I have previously stated publicly how dependent Heathrow and our hotel portfolio are on migration and Britain being open to global movement, and I would hope that this shall remain a key consideration when using the additional £3bn set aside for Brexit contingency planning,” Arora added.

The Arora group manages £1.5 billion of property assets across the UK with an annual turnover in the region of £180m. The Group has over 2,000 employees.

“In the midst of Brexit, the decision to raise the Airline Taxes in the UK, thereby disincentivising travel for business and pleasure, and restricting consumer choice is a disastrous move,” added Ryan Khurana, policy analyst at the Consumer Choice Center (CCC). He said the UK government’s hiking of the Air Passenger Duty would hurt Britain’s investment prospects.

“Penalising long-haul flights will discourage investors and entrepreneurs from seeing the UK as an open place to do business. This hurts not only them, but also native Britons who are restricted from the benefits of increased choice in global destinations,” said Khurana.

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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