All parties must commit to hospitality funding

22 March 2010 by
All parties must commit to hospitality funding

It has long been apparent that London has enjoyed a certain degree of protection from the ravages of the recession, when compared with the rest of the country.

The publication of the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker results this week added further weight to this view, and offered further context to it.

The tracker posits that low interest rates have disproportionately benefited home-owners in London and the South-east, where mortgages are bigger than elsewhere around the country, and left them with greater disposable income.

And it suggests that the weak pound has encouraged inbound tourists to travel to London and enjoy its hospitality at advantageous rates.

Still, within the Greater London borders and beyond, the past two years have been hugely challenging. If London and the regions are to enjoy a more positive trading climate any time soon, what's needed is greater funding for marketing of the country, internationally.

With this in mind, it was encouraging this week to see the Conservatives announce their intention to establish a dedicated fund to market the UK overseas in the run-up to the London Olympic Games. For the record, the Government has to date made no commitment to replicating the additional funding it made available in the aftermath of 9/11 and foot and mouth.

Of course, promises are easily made, but should be taken with a pinch of salt. This is the electioneering season, after all - and, as Caterer went to press, Conservative HQ still wasn't saying how big a fund it had in mind.

Funding cuts to VisitBritain over recent years have been well documented, and point to a government with insufficient appreciation of the many benefits the hospitality industry brings to the nation.

If hospitality is to maximise the opportunity of the 2012 Olympics, the incoming Government needs to instigate a step-change in the way it supports the sector - regardless of its political creed.

Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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