In an open letter to Merseyside businesses, Liverpool Hospitality Association is asking them to buy hospitality vouchers for staff this Christmas to support bars, restaurants and hotels. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool city region businesses are being asked to offer hospitality gift vouchers to their staff this Christmas in a show of support for the battered hospitality sector.
Bars, restaurants, and hotels have been among the worst-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Since March Liverpool’s hospitality sector has lost more than £1bn in revenues and, with another lockdown imminent, the crisis is set to deepen.
Now, in a open letter to the city region’s businesses, the co-chairs of Liverpool Hospitality Association (LHA), have written an open letter asking for support. Marcus Magee, general manager of the Hilton Hotel, and Paul Askew, owner of The Art School restaurant, say buying vouchers could offer a much-needed boost to businesses fighting for survival.
Liverpool city region’s hospitality sector is, in normal times, worth more than £4bn a year and provides employment for tens of thousands of people. The run up to Christmas is normally the busiest time of the year for bars, restaurants an hotels. In a normal year firms across Merseyside would be looking forward to their Christmas parties. However, the picture for Christmas this year looks bleak.
In the letter, the LHA says: “There is no denying that it has been a challenging year for everyone. We have all been affected by this ongoing situation, however, we have not all been affected in the same way; some people and businesses have struggled more than others.
“It is common knowledge that one of the most profoundly affected industries by COVID-19 has been hospitality… Our industry also supports wider supply chains that rely heavily on our businesses. So, when we talk about being one of the worst industries affected; we mean jobs, livelihoods, families and people from our industry and beyond.”
It adds: “Keeping our community safe and supporting the NHS is our priority and we can guarantee that we are doing everything in our power to keep our venues safe for everyone.
“Nevertheless; operating at a reduced capacity, observing a curfew, additional safety measures, new equipment and technologies, training, re-training. These all come at a cost and they all require investment of both money and time – both which are getting scarcer and scarcer forcing more and more of our hospitality venues to close their doors.
“When we all meet at the other end, our businesses are going to be there to welcome you all back for those after work drinks, unforgettable Christmas parties, special birthday and anniversary celebrations, celebratory graduation ceremonies, memorable wedding receptions. But for this to become a reality in the future, we need all the support that we can get, now.
“There is no doubt that Christmas will be very different this year, but that does not mean it has to be cancelled. The festive season is always one of the most exciting times of the year for everybody and Christmas parties have been a great way to recognise employees’ hard work.
“We know this will not be possible this December, but there is a way of keeping this tradition alive. This year, the small act of gifting your employees with hospitality gift vouchers will go a long way in supporting the businesses that make our region such a destination.
“Most of our vouchers are valid for one year. although we do not expect everyone to redeem them straight away. This simple gesture will have a hugely positive impact on our businesses now while giving us hope and prospects for the future – one where COVID is no longer a threat to our society and the LCR will be thriving once again.”