Julian Smith MP column

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Last week I met with local representatives of the hospitality industry, a sector vital to the economy of our area and the country as a whole.

It is the UK’s sixth largest contributor to export earnings and the fourth largest employer - 4.6 million people work in the hospitality and tourism industry, which is equivalent to almost one in seven of the entire UK workforce.

On Tuesday I met with the managing director of Swinton Park Hotel in Parliament as part of the British Hospitality Association’s third annual hospitality day. It was great to catch up with Claire after visiting the hotel’s country club and spa expansion earlier this year. The hotel has created 45 new jobs in the area and launched a new programme - the Swinton Academy - to offer three trainees the opportunity to experience the various departments within the business. The hotel has teamed up with Darling College to launch this academy and if the pilot is successful it has the potential to be extended to people interested in beauty therapy, who would craft their skills in the new spa.

This was followed by a meeting on Friday with members of the Yorkshire Fine Hotels Group, including Ripley Castle, The Coniston Hotel, The Devonshire Arms and Swinton Park Hotel. We covered a wide range of issues and discussed the opportunities and challenges that they face in the coming years as we leave the EU. I am doing everything I can to support these local employers and the wider hospitality sector by communicating their needs to my colleagues in Government. One aspect of my representations to Ministers is looking at the Government’s new technical qualifications – T-levels – and how they can encourage more young people to start careers in this important industry.

Part of the success of the hospitality industry here is thanks to our magnificent, historic landmarks, including Fountains Abbey and Ripon Cathedral. It is really important that we maintain these buildings because they draw visitors to our area but more importantly they are significant cultural and historic assets to our community. A couple of weeks ago I attended a fundraising event at the Cathedral where a record £26,000 was raised by the local community as part of the Dean’s development plans for a 21st century Yorkshire cathedral. In addition, I am supporting the Cathedral’s application to the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund and I have spoken with the Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund to assist bids from Ripon Cathedral and Fountains Abbey.

Hospitality in Yorkshire is experiencing impressive increases in investment and positive growth figures, and I am keen to see this continue.

I will be holding regular surgeries over the coming weeks. For more details on these, please visit my website at www.juliansmith.org.uk or contact my office on 01756 795898.