Hoteliers in Bristol are urging the two newly-elected mayors to give a firm show of support for the city’s hospitality industry now that they have been sworn in.
Marvin Rees (Labour) was re-elected as Mayor of Bristol at the weekend and former Wansdyke MP Dan Norris (Labour) became West of England Mayor, succeeding Conservative Tim Bowles. The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) is calling on both men to speak up for the local hospitality industry, which was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic.
Raphael Herzog, BHA Chair, said: “Local people have given Marvin Rees and Dan Norris a vote of confidence by electing them to their positions, and we would like to congratulate them on their election victories. Now we’d like to see both men give our businesses a vote of confidence as lockdown restrictions ease and we begin the long road to recovery.”
Throughout the pandemic the BHA has lobbied local MPs and civic leaders for support. Mr Herzog said the elections have presented an opportunity to renew those calls and for the elected representatives to show that they are determined to stand up for local businesses.
He said: “Even if most, or all, restrictions are lifted on 21 June, it is still going to take time for our businesses to get fully up and running, which is why we need continued support. We would invite Mr Rees and Mr Norris to support out call for an extended business rates holiday for the hospitality sector. We would also like to see the reduced rate of VAT be extended, and for the furlough scheme to be extended and also be applicable for new employees, as this may give people increased confidence to choose a career in our sector. The fact that hospitality businesses were always among the first to close and the last to be able to re-open during the various lockdowns this year had a negative impact on people when it came to job security and stability. We need help to restore people’s confidence and to raise awareness of the many varied and tremendous career opportunities within our exciting sector.”
He added “We are hoping our newly-elected representatives will add their voices to ours, to help us get what we’ve been asking for ever since the first lockdown – to be treated fairly compared to other industries. We also really need political leaders to help promote our industry in this area. We have many vacancies but not enough people choosing to work in our sector. The Kick-Start scheme has not been successful for us and we need more support. We also need them to support our lobbying for the Government to review the EU Brexit rules on people working in our industry, so that more EU citizens can be allowed to work in the industry.”
He finished off by saying “Although we can re-open to guests on 17 May, some hotels can only operate at 70% occupancy and restaurants in bars can only safely operate at 40% or 50% of their usual occupancy, so our businesses continue to face many challenges, which is why we still need support.”