BHA: Uncertain times mean UK hospitality must be competitive

BHA: Uncertain times mean UK hospitality must be competitive

Uncertain political and economic times mean it is more important than ever that the UK hospitality and tourism industry can compete, Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned.

Ibrahim added that the UK VAT rate was still twice that in Europe, and that relying on fluctuating rates of inbound visitors was not a good long-term strategy for the sector.

The comments come as the third and most recent single monthly BHA Travel Monitor showed that the number of holiday visitors to the UK from abroad rose by 32.4 per cent in November 2016, compared to November 2015.

And, although figures from the BHA also show the number of holidaymakers across the year to date to be down 1.2 per cent, when also taking business visitors and those visiting friends and family into account, the overall number of visits in the year to date was actually up 2.8 per cent.

Spend by overseas visitors was up 14.1 per cent year on year, which was seen as even more positive given that the year earlier was tough to beat, thanks to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.  

The analysis also found that the number of Britons travelling abroad continued to rise.

Ibrahim said: “With political and economic uncertainty increasing it is more important than ever to ensure UK tourism can compete. The UK continues to have on average twice the tourism VAT rate than that across Europe. Alongside businesses investing in the apprenticeship levy, rising business rates and the threat of online platforms such as Airbnb, this signals concern for businesses in the industry.”

“Thankfully trading in November has been very encouraging and has helped offset poor performance earlier in the year.  The low rate of sterling presents a great opportunity for our industry to welcome an increasing number of foreign visitors but we cannot and should not rely on fluctuating rates in the long term.”

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