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By Georges Panayotis

Will we play the third wheel on the wagon forever? Why is it that all politicians rush to the agriculture fair while only a few of them make the trip to events organised by the tourism and hotel industry? 

Agriculture represented 714,000 jobs in 2014 compared to 899,000 jobs for hotels and restaurants. France's granary brings in 32.1 billion euros per year, or 1.5% of the GDP, compared to 7.2% for tourism, which brings in 160 billion euros of domestic consumption. The agriculture sector - which is essential to the health of our economy and to our health in general - has been subsidized since the birth of the common agricultural policy more than 50 years ago, while hotels and restaurants generate foreign exchange and taxes which are used to finance the state budget. In 2015, 282.6 million euros were paid to municipalities and local authorities via the tourist tax. Don't throw any more...

While global groups are able to absorb debt, implement tools and processes to make economies of scale, and have an international base that allows them to withstand periods of crisis in certain destinations, independent hotel and restaurant owners must maintain their activities alone, against all odds. More than 95% of companies in France have less than 20 employees. Hoteliers and restaurateurs operating in rural areas, produce value for a region, hire and train locally and often find themselves alone to manage their business and maintain it with respect to market competitiveness standards.

Hotels and restaurants are long-term investments in a territory. They support the dynamism of a tourist destination that can build a coherent offer around a coherent offer of accommodations. It is a workforce trained in French excellence that has seen the birth of the cuisine of star chefs. The culture of French gastronomy has now been exported but its reputation is international and the whole world envies us. We must not forget the importance of our sector. While it is laudable to come to assist the weakest, it is dangerous to only turn to those who are loudest and forget about an industry that is less significant from an electoral point of view despite being much more important for the vitality of our economy.

Why is it that cafetiers, hoteliers and restaurateurs who spend their days in the kitchen are taxed more than large companies? Why is it that independent accommodations and restaurants receive so little help for the day-to-day management of their business? Why is a small property taxed on the same basis as a multinational? Is it not possible to relax certain regulations for small craftsmen, as is the case in other sectors? It is not a question of asking for less from independent properties, but rather of asking for better and for helping them to maintain their activity that is vital to the quality of our reception. Indeed, we are not talking about the hotel groups that are established in rural areas where tourists go for a just few weeks a year, but rather about independent properties are active most of the year with an open café, the organization of events...

The time has come to consider the sector for its true value and to accompany it in its transformation for its sustainability and for the attractiveness of our destinations. The hotel and restaurant industry is a sector that is thriving; it has reinvented itself and continues to evolve. If we continue taking advantage of the beast instead of accompanying it as it evolves, we risk cutting off its wings.

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is the President & Founder of MKG Group & Hospitality ON.

Born into a family of hoteliers, Georges Panayotis left Greece at the age of 18 to study Political Science and earn a management degree at the University of Paris, Dauphine.

In 1986 he created his own company and started developing specialised marketing tools for the hotel industry.

Over the past 30 years, MKG Conseil, later to become MKG Group, became the leading European consulting firm for the hotel business, food service and tourism industries. He is also a consultant for several radio and television stations that focus on the economy.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

g.panayotis@hospitality-on.com

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