Sir Rocco Forte: I would rather invest overseas


Sir Rocco Forte: I would rather invest overseas – UK’s policies ‘restricting enterprise’, says hotelier

  • Sir Rocco revealed that he had ripped up plans to open series of boutique hotels
  • He said the Government was ‘moving very, very slowly’ to slash red tape
  • Deregulation that would have helped to move the economy hasn’t happened

Sir Rocco Forte has said he is investing overseas and giving Britain a miss due to the Government’s lack of economic direction.

The 87-year-old owns a chain of luxury hotels, including Brown’s in London’s Mayfair, as well as The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

But Forte told the Mail that he had ripped up plans to pump money into the UK economy through opening a series of boutique hotels in regional tourist centres, such as Oxford, Bath and the Cotswolds.

He said: ‘I have abandoned that. I would rather invest overseas where I can get a good return.’ 

Forte, who backed the UK leaving the EU in the Brexit referendum, said the Government was ‘moving very, very slowly’ to slash red tape. ‘The deregulation we could have had – that would have actually helped to move the economy – hasn’t happened.’

Snub: Sir Rocco Forte revealed that he had ripped up plans to pump money into the UK economy through opening a series of boutique hotels in regional tourist centres

Snub: Sir Rocco Forte revealed that he had ripped up plans to pump money into the UK economy through opening a series of boutique hotels in regional tourist centres

Forte hit the headlines this summer after organising an appeal from 300 business leaders for the Government to scrap a controversial tax on tourist shoppers. 

More than 320 leaders have signed his open letter calling for a return of a VAT-free shopping scheme for international visitors, with tourists heading to Paris and Milan to make use of refunds and shunning London.

The letter claims scrapping the tax ‘would be a win for both business and the taxpayer’ and signatories include Burberry, Harrods and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. The hotelier took a swipe at the Prime Minister and Chancellor, accusing them of ‘not looking at the longer term picture’ on the economic benefits of ditching the levy.

‘It’s all short term. I think they decided how they can stay in power and are looking at what is popular in the short term.’

As American tourists return to Europe for holidays after Covid, Forte said he doesn’t feel ‘the same pressure of demand’ in the UK versus his hotels in Italy.

Forte pointed to Sicily, where he opened a hotel resort with the help of a 25 per cent subsidy of €14m and was made an honorary citizen after creating hundreds of jobs and invigorating the local economy.

‘We can’t compete with that in this country in the same way.’

Forte said the UK government’s policies were ‘restricting enterprise’ and there was no compelling economic vision from UK leaders.

He said: ‘People have got to be carried along with a belief in something, a belief there’s a destination which we are trying to reach. There’s no destination at the moment and that’s been the case for the last 15 years in this country, with Labour and Conservative.’



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