Covid-19

What could the hospitality and tourism sector’s road to recovery look like?

2 Aug 2021

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of hospitality and tourism businesses, not just as employers but as cornerstones of our local communities. As the sector continues to face huge hurdles, we take a look at what its road to recovery might look like in light of the Government's new strategy, which focuses on boosting resilience.

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To say that the hospitality and tourism sector has been impacted by Covid-19 is an understatement. 

According to a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), 77% of small hospitality and tourism firms were unable to adapt their businesses at the beginning of the pandemic. Severe cash flow disruptions led 53% of small hospitality and tourism businesses to use a CBILS or BBLS loan.

Yet despite the fact that the majority of coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, the sector is continuing to face huge challenges. 

Earlier this week, the chief executive of Richard Caring’s hospitality empire - a firm that runs a host of A-list venues including The Ivy and Sexy Fish - warned that the hospitality sector could face more closures next year without significant Government support.

The so-called “ping-demic” is putting pressure on businesses in tourism and hospitality, as well as many other sectors of the economy. Despite cases of Covid-19 falling in recent days, restaurant owners are saying that this hasn’t made a noticeable difference to staffing issues. 

Some of the nation’s favourite local and larger businesses were experiencing staff shortages before the ping-demic. According to data by the ONS, there were an estimated 102,000 job vacancies in hospitality between April and June, compared with 19,000 in December to February (and more than 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels). 

The impact of Brexit is also being felt. 

Over the last two years the number of EU workers employed in the hospitality sector has fallen by over 40%. Employees from EU countries comprised 37% of the workforce at over 700 hospitality businesses in June, down from 43% two years ago, according to data from Fourth, a hospitality software company. 

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What is the Government’s new strategy for hospitality businesses?

On 16 July, the Government published a new strategy designed to help England’s pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues to thrive in the longer-term. 

It supports the “reopening, recovery and resilience” of pubs, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs. It also includes measures to “build back better and greener” from Covid-19 by facilitating collaborations between businesses and universities, in an attempt to boost innovation in the sector and reduce waste and plastic usage. 

The delivery of The Hospitality Strategy is being overseen by restaurant entrepreneur Karen Jones and Business Minister Paul Scully. So, what does it include, exactly?

1. Addressing recruitment challenges 

The strategy outlines measures to bring opportunities in the hospitality sector to the fore. This will be delivered in part through the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) specialised work coaches. 

The Government is also looking at vocational skills and training to support hospitality careers. This includes apprenticeships, bootcamps and other qualifications like a T-Levels, as well as working with hospitality businesses to raise the profile of careers in the sector. 

2. Funding for hospitality businesses

The Government will work with the government-owned British Business Bank and business finance lenders to support access to finance for hospitality firms so they can properly invest in their businesses as they recover and grow. 

Funding Options was chosen by the British Business Bank as a designated platform to find finance for businesses. 

If you run a business in any sector of the economy, you can use our platform to find finance. We’ll match your requirements against the business finance industry’s largest lender network to ensure your results are tailored specifically to your business. 

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3. More al fresco dining 

44% of small hospitality and tourism businesses are on or next to the UK high street, according data from the FSB. The strategy aims to make it easier for pubs, restaurants and cafes on the high street to provide al fresco dining and serve more customers outside.

Pavement licenses, which allow bars and eateries to place removable furniture on the pavement outside their premises, are being made permanent. In a bid to increase sales, takeaway pints will be allowed to continue for another 12 months in England and Wales.

4. Help to Grow programme

The Government’s Help to Grow programme will bolster the sector’s digital and management skills. The strategy will also seek to unite hospitality companies with higher education institutions and other innovative organisations in order to provide startups in the sector with the support and knowledge they need to thrive.

5. Building back ‘greener’

Another key aspect of the strategy is to help the hospitality sector build back greener by reducing its CO2 emissions and waste, and curbing its consumption of single-use plastics.  

The good news is there’s a growing appetite among lenders for financing green projects. If you run a sustainable startup or if your business is interested in buying a green asset such as an electric vehicle or a solar panel, we’re pleased to say we can now match you with a green lender and finance type quickly and easily.   

The Recovery Loan Scheme is also still open for applications. Eligible businesses can apply for government-backed loans ranging from £1,000 to £10M. Although there are benefits associated with the scheme, some businesses might be able to find a different type of finance on more favourable terms. 

One of the best reasons to apply through Funding Options is that, by using a combination of technology and expertise, we can identify the most suitable finance for your goals and circumstances. Whatever your situation, see what you could be eligible for today. 

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