UK serviced apartment sector favours remaining in the EU

George Sell By George Sell
17 June 2016 | Updated 17 June 2016

UK: An online poll of Serviced Apartment News readers has revealed a three to one majority in favour of the UK remaining in the European Union.

Around 75 per cent of those polled answered that the UK remaining in the EU would be more beneficial for the sector than a vote to leave.

Some of the comments in favour of remaining included:

"We have spent 1000 years trying to prevent the continent being united against us. How crass to throw that all away for nothing. Outside, we will still have to deal with the EU every day - we'll just have no say in its decisions. Freedom? Impotence more like."

"Remaining will ensure that we see expats from other countries moving to the UK more easily which will create more opportunities within the serviced apartment industry. I also believe that there are various benefits to UK citizens to remaining in the EU, such as ease of travel throughout Europe, and stronger global positioning."

"Membership is vital for business and investment - key drivers of the economy and key drivers of demand for serviced apartments. Moreover, EU citizens make up a lot of the workforce - leave, and we may lose them and have to replace them with higher cost staff, killing margins. Anything that puts up barriers to free movement of people always hurts tourism."

"I believe that currently companies are reluctant to move people, and therefore we have seen a slow down in the sector so far this year, if we leave the EU this slow down will be increased, and it would be detrimental to the industry as a whole. It would also be more difficult to work with European suppliers as an agent if we leave the EU, as it could have additional tax implications for us."

Comments in favour of leaving included:

"It will enable us to be more competitive, not just with technological solutions for the industry as a whole but also with banking solutions. I think we will be able to offer more solutions to investors wanting to come into the UK."

"We're seeing more and more customers from outside the EU using serviced apartments. There will be a detrimental effect but I don't think the effect will be as negative as people make out. Also I don't think people from the EU zone will stop visiting the UK, and the potential visa process may end up being no different to what we use when we visit the USA, so I don't think border control will be as big a problem as is being made out by the pro-remain group."
"I think it is right that we control our destiny and not have it determined by others."

The poll's insights come as HVS reported a 95 per cent majority in favour of remaining at its Market Connections event in London yesterday. The majority felt that the effect on the UK hotel sector would ultimately be neutral but pointed out concerns over the issue of finding enough staff of the right calibre to operate hotels if immigration were to be severely curtailed.

"The overwhelming feeling from our audience was that Britain should remain within the EU, not least because it removes huge uncertainties as to what will happen if there were a vote to leave," said HVS London managing director Charles Human.

Editor's Comment

The EU referendum is turning out to be one of the most polarising political events the UK has witnessed in its recent political history, both among the opposing campaigns and the general public.

Listening to two sides offering diametrically opposing explanations for the consequences of leaving the EU has left many voters feeling uninformed and confused, and the result is still hard to call, with a recent surge in favour of the Brexit camp reported in several polls.

Amongst all the supposition, claim and counter-claim, what can't be denied is that businesses don't like uncertainty, particularly when - as is the case with the serviced apartment and wider hospitality sectors - their customer base is international. So while the overall vote is likely to be close, it's not a huge surprise to see our industry largely in favour of staying in the EU, particularly with so many EU citizens coming to the UK to work in hospitality.

It was interesting that some of those polled by Serviced Apartment News felt the UK would be more competitive outside the EU, while others stated the exact opposite was true.

The result of next week's referendum is not likely to be as clear cut as these industry polls, and the sector may have to prepare for some turbulence as a result.

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