By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (www.kalkine.co.uk)
There have been repeated warnings that commuters will face serious travel chaos next week due to the largest rail strike in more than 30 years. RMT (Rail, Maritime, and Transport) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators will go on strike. The train operating companies are expected to ask people to avoid all travel on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (21, 23, and 25 June) as services will be drastically reduced.
Hospitality sector to be deeply impacted
While the strike is going to present a major disruption for passengers, it will have a serious repercussion on the hospitality business as well. The industry is still finding it difficult to recover after the pandemic and struggling to survive.
Trains are considered essential across the country for safe travel, and disruption in their functioning will impact the businesses with people avoiding venturing out. It will not only discourage domestic tourists but international visitors as well.
Different industry bodies, including hospitality, live music venues, theatres, and museums, have already termed the development counterintuitive when the situation is already grim for their businesses. The rail network plays a crucial role in the night-time economy of these businesses, and it has been estimated that 81 per cent of London theatregoers and an almost similar number of hospitality customers rely on the rail network.
The industry is concerned as the strikes have fallen at a time when various sporting and music events, like, the cricket Test match between England and New Zealand, British Athletics Championships, concerts in Hyde Park featuring Elton John and the Rolling Stones, Glastonbury Festival, and Armed Forces Day are taking place. These events were expected to draw a huge crowd as many of them are being organised without Covid restrictions for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.
Importance of transportation for hospitality
Transportation plays a crucial role in the growth of the hospitality and tourism industry. In fact, rails have been credited for laying the foundation for the modern tourism industry. However, it has also been said that the lack of quality transportation modes in the travel and tourism industry is a major reason to demotivate tourists from travelling.
Rail strikes are sure to jeopardise hospitality sector recovery, and the industry struggling with the rising inflation may see a further decline in consumer confidence. It is widely known that transportation, whether through roads, highways, railways, ports, or airports, helps increase the number of tourists. Hence, any disruption that could adversely impact the businesses concerned needs to be avoided.
Talks are still going on, and hopes are alive that further discussions could see the strike called off, preventing major chaos as the aviation went through during the Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations. RMT has come up with new proposals to convince railway workers to accept a deal. However, any disruption which impacts normal life and businesses needs to be avoided. The government will have to come up with guidelines so that the vital industry like hospitality does not get impacted as its knock-on effect will be easily visible on the wider UK economy, as said by the industry body UKHospitality.