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UK hospitality industry in favour of Brexit; but there will be a ‘negative impact on the economy’

A survey of operators in the UK hospitality industry has found that 49% plan to vote leave in next week’s EU Referendum, whilst 43% plan to vote remain and 7% are still undecided.
The survey by RPBi, the hospitality data and news specialist, found that the majority of recipients – whether voting to leave or to remain – believe a leave vote would have a ‘negative impact on the economy’.

The B2B survey, which was conducted this week, received 1,915 responses from operators across all sectors of hospitality. The aim: To determine the industry’s thoughts on the EU Referendum and the impact on recruitment and investment in the UK hospitality industry in the event of a leave vote. 

All respondents taking part in the survey were asked the official referendum question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” 

Hospitality professionals in Wales are most in favour of voting to leave (64%3), whilst those in London are the most likely to vote remain with 62.5%. Furthermore, the figures suggest that there will be more operators in Scotland voting to remain than leave; in all other regions, a higher percentage of hospitality professionals intend to vote leave. Plus, B&Bs and caterers are more likely to vote leave; with restaurants, hotels and head offices more likely to vote remain. 

Respondents, which included business owners, decision makers and senior operators, were also asked: “If the UK votes to leave the European Union, do you think it will be easier to recruit staff?” – the majority of recipients said there would be no impact (51%), with 34% stating it would be harder to recruit, 7% said it would be easier to recruit and 8.5% said they “don’t know”. 

Commenting on the results of the survey, Keith Britten, director of RPBi, said: “The results of the survey mirror recent national opinion polls. Surprisingly, for the hospitality industry, the majority of respondents said that there would be no impact on recruitment in the event of a leave vote; with only a third saying it would be harder to recruit.” 

Further findings suggest that the older the respondent, the more likely they would be to vote leave – more than 50% of those over 55 intend to vote leave, as opposed to 26% for 25-34 year olds. Also, men are more likely to vote leave than women (50% vs 46%), but there are twice as many women voters still undecided. 

When asked “If the UK votes to leave the European Union, what do you think the impact will be on investment into the UK's hospitality industry?” more than a third of recipients said there would be “no impact” (38%), whilst 36% stated there would be reduced investment. In all, 13.5% stated there would be increased investment, and 12% said they “don’t know”. 

Finally, when asked “What do you believe the effect will be on the UK's overall economy, if the UK votes to leave the European Union?” the majority of recipients said there would a negative effect (44%) – 36% stated there would be a positive effect, 10% stated there would no effect, and a further 10% again stated that they did not know.

 Britten concluded: “After analysing the comments and survey results, the one key fact that stands out is that whichever way people decide to vote, the majority believe that a leave vote would have a negative impact on the economy. However, those voting to leave suggest that the negative impact will be short-lived and the benefits will be reaped in the long-term."

“The industry will need to watch closely what happens next week. It will be important for companies and trade bodies to watch the developments and the potential impact on hospitality and to react as one industry and not, as has too often happened in the past, as individual sectors.”

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