Belfast Telegraph

Government urged to review recruitment for hospitality industry post-Brexit

Luxury hotel group Hyatt has warned "life could become very difficult" for the UK hospitality industry after Brexit if access to foreign workers is restricted.

Peter Fulton, the firm's Europe chief , has urged the Government to ensure the sector can still draw on a depth of overseas talent , warning the number of British people working in London's restaurants and hotels was "relatively small".

Speaking to the Press Association at The Churchill Hotel in London, which employs staff from 40 different countries, Mr Fulton added: "When I go and dine out in London, how many British people are actually working in the hospitality industry in London, it is relatively small.

"I think the labour situation in the case of Brexit needs to be studied very carefully.

"I think life could become very difficult for the industry if the whole situation is not looked at.

"This is one industry around the world that drives a lot business.

"Whether you are staying in hotels, or going to see Buckingham Palace, that whole combined industry is important."

He said the Government needed to deliver "a thorough review of what (Brexit) actually means for the industry".

His comments come after sandwich chain Pret A Manger said it was already reaching out to British applicants in a bid to plug the looming recruitment gap caused by Britain's divorce from the European Union.

The British Hospitality Association said last month the UK sector needed around 62,000 EU migrants every year if it is to maintain the status quo and drive growth.

However, the Government plans to head off recruitment woes for the hospitality industry with a new ''barista visa'' allowing young European citizens to continue coming to the UK to work in coffee shops and pubs.

Hyatt saw net income jump 64.5% to 204 million US dollars (£158 million) for 2016 and opened 59 hotels, including the Hyatt Place hotel at London Heathrow.

Mr Fulton, who is president of EAME and Southwest Asia, said the group had enjoyed a healthy first quarter in the UK this year, as the Brexit-hit pound attracted more visitors from across the Atlantic.

"The first quarter has been very good for us," he added.

" With the US dollar being as strong as it is and obviously with the pound and the euro being a bit weaker, we are seeing stronger growth into this part from the US."

The Chicago-based firm, which owns five UK hotels, is forecasting net income to come in between 94 million US dollars (£73 million) and 129 US dollars (£100 million) for 2017 and expects to open another 60 hotels.

Despite calling for clarity on foreign workers, he said Hyatt was "bullish" about the UK market and believed Brexit would not diminish London's standing in the world.

"Since the announcement of Brexit, what has happened.

"There have been great employment figures and economy is the strongest in the EU.

"Certain parts of finance, or maybe insurance, may move around and other countries may well try and take advantage of the political environment, but London and the UK will remain important in the global community."

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