• Hospitality’s importance highlighted

A frequent complaint by the hospitality industry is that it is often overlooked by governments, who are swayed by better lobbying efforts on behalf of other, often smaller, industries.

A new set of figures just put out by the UK Government’s National Statistics, however, gives evidence that should help make this ignorance much harder to get away with.

The data, published in United Kingdom Input-Output Analyses 2006, shows that the catering and pub sector was the sixth fastest growing industry – adding almost £20bn to its total value during the 12 years to 2004.

This growth performance leaves hospitality ranked behind computing, banking and property. But the contribution of the hospitality industry to the economy of the UK has shifted upwards significantly nonetheless.

In 2004 it represented 3.17% of the value created in the economy compared to 2.47% 12 years earlier in 1992.

And hospitality makes a bigger overall contribution to the economy than some other higher profile industries such as telecoms or computing. It raises the question yet again of why the Government pays so little attention to hospitality relative to say agriculture (which contributes just 0.92%) or motor vehicles (whose contribution is 0.85%).

Recent events show that hotels, restaurants and pubs have a hard battle to win the hearing that the scale of the industry – it was worth £33bn in 2004 – deserves.

Government policy was prepared to lay waste to much of the domestic tourism industry during the foot and mouth crisis, paying out compensation to the much less important farming industry and ignoring the difficulties among hoteliers and restaurateurs.

Equally, the Government has yet to face political uproar on the scale seen during the crisis at car maker Rover from the proposed bed tax. And yet these figures show it clearly should.

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