The hospitality industry can create 475,000 jobs by 2020 if barriers to growth are removed, a new report suggests.
More than 2.4 million people are directly employed by the industry, contributing more than £46 billion in wages and profits to local economies each year, according to the British Hospitality Association, which commissioned the report.
While Westminster has the highest number of hospitality jobs of all local authority areas in the country (86,000), and is easily the biggest in terms of wages and profits (£2.4bn) the Isles of Scilly and areas in Cumbria and in the south-west are the local authorities most dependent on the success of the hospitality industry and on the tourism industry generally.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said the report highlighted the importance of the industry to local economies but warned that Britain’s lack of price competitiveness with other major European countries represented a major hurdle.
According to the World Economic Forum’s latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, the UK ranked 135th out of 139 countries on price competitiveness.
“Growing the hospitality economy depends on improving this position so that the whole UK economy can benefit,” she said. “All but two EU member states have reduced the rate of VAT on accommodation and attractions. They recognise that the direct revenues foregone as a result of the reduced rate concession are compensated by the additional demand that reduced rates generate, and the creation of new jobs.”
She added: “We believe that the industry can create 236,000 jobs by 2015 and a total of 425,000 by 2020, providing we have the right level of government support in place.”