Tourism and Hospitality Sectors
Positive news around higher wages and lower unemployment can often mask the difficulties faced by many businesses at a local level. For example, across South Devon, many in the hospitality and tourism sector are finding it incredibly hard to source new employees. With over 30% of our local economy benefiting from the hospitality and tourism industries, this is indeed an alarming state of affairs.
At the start of 2020, I created a tourism and hospitality roundtable group. The purpose of such a creation was to join up the thinking between local restaurateurs, hoteliers and businesses linked to hospitality and tourism, and to hear the issues they were facing as well as to approach common problems with shared solutions. This group has now met several times, giving me a greater understanding of what needs to be done to help these important sectors further.
Thankfully there are some solutions at hand. Not only are local schools and colleges encouraging their pupils to look at working in the hospitality sector, but our new trade deals, most notably with Australia and New Zealand, are set to contain new visa provisions. The visa scheme, which will come into force on a reciprocal basis when signed, will make it easier for people to come to work in the UK, including in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
While these deals are being finalised, there are unlikely to be any significant changes in terms of visa arrangements. So, our hospitality and tourism champions of South Devon should look ahead with a little more ease.
I alone must have written tens of thousands of words about Covid. I had so dearly hoped that the very worst was behind us and that this wretched virus would be confined to the ranks and level of the common flu virus. I do still believe that over the next few weeks, we will see that while new variants are always going to arrive, the overall threat will not worsen in any significant manner. I hope not to be proved wrong.
However, it is right that we take cautious steps in facing this highly altered strain. To get it wrong now would only put us back in a situation that none of us would like to see – lockdowns. I have been clear that lockdowns are not the right approach, especially when we have vaccines, but I have to make that argument against the many who disagree. There will have to be a world in which we have to live with this virus; we cannot remain on hold indefinitely.
Thankfully, unlike most of Europe, the UK has managed to avoid returning to lockdowns thanks to a rapid vaccination and booster programme as well as understanding that a primary focus on case numbers alone is the wrong approach.
There can be no complacency but we are managing well, and hopefully over the next few weeks we will see that our tools to fight this virus remain robust and that we can continue to concentrate on a post-pandemic life.
Speaking of a post-pandemic life, my constituency surgeries are now back to full operation. If you have a local or national issue that you would like to come and discuss with me then please do contact me on Anthony.Mangnall.Mp@parliament.uk or call 01803 868 378.