Sector rallies around call for aid

More than 500 signatories supported calls for wage support, tax relief and financial aid, as the response by jurisdictions across the EU remained mixed.

A letter was due to be sent later today, calling for; wage support for the millions of hospitality employees across the continent, tax relief in the form of revenue, income and property taxes and financial aid in the form of grants and an orderly moratorium on technical defaults.

Alexi Khajavi, managing director, EMEA, Questex Hospitality Group: “The response to our call to action is a testimony to how important the sector is. Hotels play a key role in communities, economies and cultures. They provide us with cultural hubs, meeting places, careers and with a home when we are away from home.
 “The total global contribution of travel and tourism was $8,811.0bn in 2018,10.4% of GDP, and was forecast to rise by 3.7% pa to $13,085.7bn by 2029. Travel & Tourism generated 122,891,000 jobs directly in 2018, accounting for 3.8% of total employment. We cannot let this be put at risk.”

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“A number of leading sector figures joined the call, including Navneet Bali, chairman, Meininger Hotels, who told us: “Once the fear of the virus is overcome, which will take time,  people will need and want to travel. Hotels and airlines are part of the infrastructure and governments need to support them and keep them alive during this critical time so that the world economy gets restarted quickly.”

Russell Kett, chairman, HVS London, said: “Failure to take such action will have catastrophic repercussions for the millions of employees working in the sector in every country, along with the owners, investors and operators of each establishment.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses will be made bankrupt, millions will be thrown out of work, and the sector will take years to recover, if at all.

James Chappell, global business director, Horwath HTL, added: “Hospitality is a special industry. Not just because people love to travel, thats a given, not even because it contributes so much financially to all economies, but because it is one of the few industries left that young people with very few qualifications can change their lives. Actually, It’s one if the few industries at all where people are still the most important component and are future proofed because of that. It needs protecting, so what’s the best way to do that?

“In the short term, the businesses need direct financial support. The government needs to underwrite the banking sector, so they can continue to give credit, extend loans and keep the wheels turning. Staff need supporting, taking breaks as long as they can, but being supported financially by a partnership of the hotel owners and the government. Its vital that when this passes, as we know it will, the industry will be able to bounce back quickly and they can only do that if they are still running. As I remember in 2008, the banking sector was deemed too big to fail and now it’s hospitalities turn. Let’s make sure there still is an industry in a few months time and give them the support they need now.”  

Insight: Hotels are often accused of being parachuted into the areas they operate, somewhere for People From Far Away to stay, where the only interaction with the community was to offer a bit of employment. With the advent of Airbnb, they realised that community was where it was at and many have been trying to integrate themselves better.

This history was echoed in the sector’s voice; disparate, ignored by government, unheard. This is now changing, triggered by one of the most significant crises in recent years. The response to our survey was staggering, not only in terms of the responses so far – it remains open this morning – but in terms of hundreds of people getting in touch to ask how they can help.

Since the survey launched, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the 12-month business rates holiday announced for smaller businesses in last week’s Budget would be extended to all hospitality businesses, irrespective of their rateable value. Collier’s John Webber descried this to us as keeping the wolf from the door and “a step in the right direction”. But the sector needs more if it is to see this out.

Join us:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QuestexHospitality-SolidarityPledge