Hospitality makes “enormous” contributions to the economy but is facing fierce challenges, delegates at a conference heard.
Speaking at a recent UKHospitality event in Scotland, the body’s chief executive Kate Nicholls highlighted the important role hospitality plays in Scotland by employing around 200,000 people and contributing £9 billion to the economy.
She said: “Scotland’s vibrant and world-class hospitality community makes enormous contributions to our economy and society, but it is facing the fiercest of economic headwinds that we have ever experienced.
“Of course, it’s not only economic turbulence that’s hitting us, with so many areas of government policy and regulation that touch our business.
Business rates relief
“The Autumn Statement was more positive for our sector than initially feared, with encouraging news on business rates relief for venues in England.
“It’s important we see this translated across the UK, though, and we now need to see the Scottish Government freeze business rates and implement rates relief in its Budget in December. In the long term, there remains an urgent need to reform the business rates system, which is outdated and not fit for purpose.
“If the sector is to drive the economy forward like we know it can, it’s essential that business rates bills are reduced in that Budget and that hospitality is a key pillar of the Scottish Government’s economic plans.”
In addition to dealing with soaring energy costs, staffing challenges and dampening consumer confidence, Scottish hospitality businesses are also facing the unique challenges of a new deposit return scheme, outdated property taxes and a transport system that is not fit for purpose.
Leon Thompson, UKHospitality Scotland’s executive director, said: “Our hospitality businesses are already at the centre of Scottish society and our tourism offering to the rest of the world, but I’m hearing constantly that businesses are worried about their survival.
“Whether it’s rising costs or the introduction of the deposit return scheme, businesses are seeing more and more cost and regulation inserted into their business at every level.
“The dual challenge of additional legislation from both the UK and Scottish Government has created a raft of bureaucracy that is holding business back. In both Westminster and Edinburgh, UKHospitality continues to press for effective and streamlined regulation that provides the support businesses need to survive the winter and also encourages growth.”