Brexit threatens “carnage” in the UK hospitality sector, according to Red Carnation Hotels managing director Jonathan Raggett.
Speaking at a UK Tourism Society debate in London, Raggett said Red Carnation had seen job applications at its London hotels “fall to almost nothing” as a result of uncertainty about Brexit.
Red Carnation employs 1,000 staff at six properties in London, he said, of whom “800 are non-British passport holders”, adding: “This is the norm across London.”
Raggett told Tourism Society members: “In the last year, we have seen the number of applications [from EU citizens] fall to almost to nothing and we have had more than 60 outstanding European employees return to their home countries.”
He said the resulting staff shortages in hotels would bring “carnage to the industry unless the government sorts a deal out”.
Raggett also forecast London’s reputation for restaurant food would suffer.
He said of London’s restaurants: “We were a laughing stock 20-30 years ago. Today we are one of the best in the world for choice. But that is in jeopardy if we cannot bring people in. We will slip.”
Raggett confirmed Red Carnation will pay the £65 settled-status application fee for staff from EU member states, saying the cost to the group would be about £75,000.
However, despite his concerns Raggett insisted: “We will have a fantastic year and be very busy. I’m just not sure everybody is going to be able serve all these people [who will come to Britain].”
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