After a thrilling few weeks during which all stakeholders in the hospitality industry kept their fingers crossed, we finally know the country is going to have a Minister for Hospitality. We haven’t had one in the history of British Government, and this news is a big cause of celebration for all the businesses in an industry that has vital importance for the UK’s economy.
As the COVID-19 pandemic became the new normal, businesses in the hospitality industry were some of the hardest hit. As the country’s economy came to a halt with episodes of lockdown, retail food and catering businesses were terribly affected.
These business owners and workers included you, me, our friends – a total of approximately 3 million individuals with no direct representation in the Cabinet. So, when the Editor of Chef & Restaurant magazine, Claire Bosi, created a petition to start a Parliamentary debate to create a Ministry for Hospitality, more than twice the required number of people signed it – and the debate was set for 11 January 2021, which will indeed be written down as a historic day for Britain’s hospitality industry.
HOW A PETITION CHANGED THE HISTORY OF THE UK’S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Claire created her petition on 6 October 2020 to request the Parliament to host a debate for whether the British government should have a Minister for Hospitality position.
She shared the link to the petition on her social media and urged professionals in the industry to sign and share. Within a day, #SeatattheTable became a trending topic on social media. Within 9 weeks, the petition had the 100,000 signatures it needed to force the Parliament to host the debate.
The debate was hosted on a couple of days back, and the MPs who participated in it showed unanimous support for the petition, giving some of the most heart-warming speeches that soothed many hearts across the country’s hospitality industry.
A VARIETY OF OPINIONS
While the Parliament gave a splendidly positive response to the petition, the opinions outside are not so unambiguous. Some industry experts believe that, while the conclusion of the debate may have paved way for the creation of a Ministry for Hospitality, there are many more steps in the way before we can finally have a seat for the industry in the table.
In fact, there is a chance the government might create the position but not add it into the Cabinet, which I strongly believe will be a betrayal to the industry and all those people associated to it.
Personally, my biggest concerns are two: (1) who will be nominated for the position? And (2) will the new Minister get a seat in the Cabinet?
We need clear answers for both these questions. So far, the names we have heard are being suggested for the position are inexperienced politicians, when we actually need extraordinary leaders to revive the industry after a year-long financial crisis.
Similarly, if the Minister for Hospitality is not given a place in the Cabinet, I don’t believe they will be able to do much for the industry even if they are the kind of representation the industry deserves.
What do you think?