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Politics: the hospitality world appreciated, but fragmented

DZG survey on their view of the tourism industry - The result: high approval of the work of the hospitality industry with low political prioritisation

BERLIN: Members of the Bundestag generally appreciate the work of the more than 250,000 companies in the hospitality industry (tourism, travel, hospitality & food service) and see them as "very relevant" for social interaction in our society. At the same time, however, they only give the topic a low political priority in Berlin. This is shown by a survey conducted by the Denkfabrik Zukunft der Gastwelt (DZG) among members of the Bundestag on the content, perception and communication of the hospitality and tourism industry. Once again, a suspected stumbling block became apparent: the sector is not perceived as particularly homogeneous: The plurality and diversity of interest representation give seven out of ten respondents (68 per cent) the impression of fragmentation.

In fact, the analysis provides revealing insights into the political perception of the hospitality industry in the German capital. Dr Marcel Klinge, CEO of the think tank, believes that both the industry and political decision-makers have a duty: "We have high approval ratings with low political priority. The most important task is and remains the improvement of mutual communication".

The hospitality industry is seen as important and relevant throughout Germany

One pleasing result is the fundamental appreciation of the hospitality industry among the politicians surveyed, emphasises Klinge: 85% of the participating MPs consider the sector to be "important" for the Federal Republic of Germany and as many as 96% attest to its "high relevance" for their respective federal state. A differentiated picture emerges when asked about the individual sectors within the hospitality industry: Nationally, transport services (77 per cent), gastronomy (74 per cent), art and culture (62 per cent), the pub and hotel industry (55 per cent each) and leisure sports (51 per cent) are considered "very relevant" in particular.

However, the political importance of the hospitality industry in Berlin does not appear to be in line with its general approval rating. The sector only ranks eleventh out of the 14 policy areas surveyed. At the top of the ranking are economic policy, energy policy and asylum and migration policy. DZG spokesperson Klinge: "This discrepancy raises the question of how the sector can overcome this delta of importance, especially in view of the enormous challenges facing the future, such as the shortage of employees, the crumbling attractiveness of the location and rising costs." For the head of the think tank, the gap between approval and prioritisation as a political issue leads to only one conclusion: "People think we're nice to have, but we don't carry enough political weight. We are not a 'nice to have', but an indispensable anchor of economic and social stability. We all need to communicate this core message more strongly in future."

Evaluation of the 2024 VAT campaign

The survey of MPs also provided interesting insights into last year's campaign for the continuation of the reduced VAT rate: 74 per cent felt well informed about the objectives and content of the campaign, 85 per cent felt they had been provided with sufficient facts and figures and 73 per cent were able to understand the concerns of the hospitality industry. However, "only" 46 per cent of respondents were convinced by the arguments put forward. However, five out of ten politicians rated the demand for an extension of the VAT reduction to seven per cent as realistic (50 per cent), and 73 per cent were able to personally "understand" the concerns of the catering industry.

Representation of interests is perceived as fragmented

Communication with federal politicians is rated as good overall (59 per cent), with eleven per cent even rating it as very good and 26 per cent as satisfactory. However, seven out of ten respondents perceive a fragmentation of interest representation (68 per cent). "We should definitely work together on this key point with a view to the 2025 federal elections. The #HerzUnsererGesellschaft awareness campaign recently launched by the DZG together with 44 associations and organisations is a good example of how this can be achieved by joining forces," says Klinge.

Methodology: The survey took place from the beginning of February to the end of March 2024. Just under ten per cent of the 733 MPs contacted took part, which is above average compared to analogue surveys (the response rate is usually four to five per cent). Nevertheless, the results presented are a cursory picture of the mood and opinions.

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