Almost three quarters (74%) of hospitality bosses will vote to remain in the EU given that membership of the bloc “suits the nature of many businesses in the sector”.
The survey, carried out as part of the “Leading through complexity” report, published by the British Hospitality Association and search firm Heidrick & Struggles, also showed that confidence in the economy has fallen and relations with government have continued to wane.
The introduction of the National Living Wage, for instance, has caught many in the sector off guard. Whilst the NLW was not viewed negatively, the speed of change is an issue, the researchers noted. All 41 of the industry leaders quizzed said their businesses needed “time to plan”, with some alarmed by the lack of consultation.
“The perception that the government does not understand the sector or how to communicate and engage with it remains,” the report’s authors concluded. “Hospitality is still viewed as an ‘upstairs/downstairs’ culture and at times considered not a ‘serious industry to go into’, despite its economic impact.”
Regarding today’s EU referendum, the majority of hospitality and tourism leaders felt that EU membership has helped their business. Approximately 30% of the hospitality workforce is made up of migrants, for instance. “Being part of the EU has kept the sector going,” said one CEO, “…migrant labour has been critical to us.”
The impact that leaving the EU would have on UK visitors, especially tourists, was also a concern.
A straw poll conducted amongst leading hotel professionals at the second annual “Market Connections” event in London last week found that over 95% of hotel property and investment professionals favour a remain outcome.