Hoteliers in Bristol are adding their names to a petition calling on the UK Government to create a new Minister for Hospitality post to give their struggling sector a voice at the highest level.
An on-line petition calling for the appointment has attracted more than 20,000 signatories, including members of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA).
BHA Chair Raphael Herzog said: “It’s so important for our voice to be heard because hospitality businesses are always among the first to be shutdown, when more attention should perhaps be focused on other sectors, such as universities.
“Having a Government minister representing our industry could perhaps lead to less damaging restrictions being imposed on us, such as around meetings and events, weddings and the 10pm curfew.
“Most hotels have very good practices in place to keep guests and staff as safe as possible from the Covid-19 risk.
“We are managing the risk and monitoring it, ensuring they observe the ‘rule of six’ and regulations around face coverings and social distancing.
“Many hotel general managers have written to their local MPs asking for more support and for our concerns to be heard.”
He said the hospitality sector has been significantly disadvantaged by not having a dedicated voice at ministerial level.
“Having someone with specific knowledge about our industry will help the government to truly understand the full impact of the decisions they are making the restrictions they are imposing.
“It can be argued that the restrictions are disproportionate at the moment, when you look at Public Health England data for sites of multiple Covid-19 outbreaks over the past four weeks.
“This shows that the hospitality sector accounts for just four percent of these outbreaks, whereas the education sector has 36 percent, and care homes have 26 percent.
“Yet the restrictions, such as the curfews, seem to be clearly targeted at hospitality businesses, many of which are struggling to survive.
“More than 45% of staff in the hospitality sector are still furloughed and we have concerns about whether the new job retention scheme will be enough to protect jobs in our industry.
“Under the new three-tier system, people won’t want to travel to hotels in any area designated ‘very high risk’ but the hotels will still be open, with low occupancy, with staff in place, but with the Government only paying 66 percent of their pay.
“The UK hospitality industry is the fourth biggest contributor to the UK economy.
“It is responsible for around three million jobs nationwide, generating £130bn in activity, providing the Government with £38bn in taxation and yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.
“It’s time for our sector to be treated fairly and given the support we need and deserve during these challenging times.”