Pubs and restaurants open for outdoor dining today. It’s a milestone worth celebrating, not only for the lockdown-weary among us but for the hospitality industry itself, which has been among the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic. Yet while this moment is a lifeline for many businesses, there is a long way to go to secure a bright future for the UK’s 3rd largest private sector employer. To reimagine and renew the sector and the millions of jobs it creates, we need the government and the private sector to come together to spark unprecedented innovation -- so-called “moonshots” are underway in health and other sectors, and now is the time to begin.
We should start by ensuring the voice of the industry is properly represented in government, so the industry is valued for the true economic asset it is. We urge the government to appoint a Minister for Hospitality. Given the size of the industry and the fact it contributes hundreds of millions to the UK economy, it’s a no-brainer. That minister would be wise to convene a task force comprising the industry’s leaders, who not only have the right experience but also who have been at the forefront of innovating and adapting their own businesses at this time. There is power in collective action. But without a leadership from government in hospitality, we are a ship without navigation and the stars to guide us.
The task force would be guided by science -- both public health data to ensure safe operations -- and industry service data, such as percentage of financial and employment contributions to the UK’s GDP and GDV, vital to delivering a successful long-term strategy to build back better. An eco-friendly scientific advancement on travel and how to improve our carbon footprints across the UK will also need to be a part of this task force’s agenda.
Above all, we must engage young people in envisioning a new future, so that we create jobs and opportunities in the sector for generations to come. Throughout my four-decade career in the hospitality industry, I can honestly say that this industry is the most fun and rewarding for those who want to work hard and especially for those who want to serve their fellow humankind. As Albert Einstein wisely said, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.” If we harness this moment to work together, with the government giving the industry the recognition its due, I firmly believe the hospitality industry and the many people we serve will build back better than ever. We can all drink to that.
How I wish for a Hospitality Star to be appointed by any government and how I wish upon that star to be a Renew Party member elect in our next general election. Ordinary people seeking ordinary solutions are the passports for success in guiding us forward.