Northern Ireland's hospitality sector facing 'crisis' from Brexit linked staff shortages

L-R: Denis Broderick; Marianne Hood, chair of the Institute of Hospitality; Lara Morgan; and the first ever winner of the hospitality professional of the year in 1995, John Toner. Picture by Darren Kidd
Ryan McAleer

THE north’s tourism sector faces “a crisis” due to staff shortages.

The claim was made yesterday during the launch of the 25th Institute of Hospitality (IoH) awards in Belfast.

IoH NI branch chair, Marianne Hood, said the predicted exodus of foreign workers must be balanced with additional encouragement for people to join the industry.

A report produced the IoH found that waiting, bar and hosting staff are the most at risk from post-Brexit shortages.

“Without the hospitality sector, our super successful tourism industry would be a non-starter. Accommodation providers, restaurants and bars are the pulsating heart of our visitor experience, the very essence of Northern Ireland,” said Ms Hood.

“While Northern Ireland continues to take great strides forward as a competitive destination with world class and widely recognised food and drink offers as well as top quality accommodation, the risk lies in recruitment, staff retention and the people we need.

“Hospitality is not just about the people. It is about trained, skilled professionals who know how to marry our natural sense for hospitality to commercially successful standards. Most people in this business agree that the key challenge is getting trained and skilled personnel across all functions.

“Brexit has shown how reliant our sector is on the ability of people to move here for work.”

The Institute of Hospitality recently published a report which shows the seven hospitality roles most at risk of a staff shortage from Brexit according to industry workers in management positions or business owners are:

1. Waiter / Waitress (80 per cent)

2. Bartender / Barista (64 per cent)

3. Host (48 per cent)

4. Hotel Concierge (34 per cent)

5. Chef (26 per cent)

6. Restaurant Manager (17 per cent)

7. Hotel Manager (10 per cent)

The 25th IOH awards for professionalism will be judged by a team of panellists and the announcement made at a gala dinner on May 15 2020 in the Crowne Plaza, Belfast.

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