Markus Stolz
Author: Markus Stolz

Enjoyment is not a matter of course

30 October 2019
GastroPolicy-Talk at the Wine Route

On 28 October, METRO continued its "Gastro-Policy-Talk" at the Ketschauer Hof in Deidesheim at the Wine Route. Key players from politics, gastronomy and economy discussed the opportunities but also the political and regulatory challenges the sector is facing. A lack of recognition for gastronomic professions, the importance of tourism in Rhineland-Palatinate, the high tax burdens faced by gastronomes as well as the digitalisation of gastronomy were the main topics of the evening.

Overview of the panellists

Opening speech by Gereon Haumann

Gereon Haumann, President of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association Rhineland-Palatinate; © Andreas Henn

In his opening speech, Gereon Haumann, President of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association Rhineland-Palatinate, stressed the importance of tourism for Germany and Rhineland-Palatinate. The tourism industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Germany and needs more support from politicians.

Johannes Steiniger (CDU), a member of the German Bundestag with a constituency in Rhineland-Palatinate, agreed with this and particularly addressed the wine bourgeoisie in the region. Wine-growing is an important economic factor for the region and has made tourism on the Wine Route great.

Johannes Steiniger speaking about the importance of the wine route

Johannes Steiniger (CDU), member of the German Bundestag; © Andreas Henn

Nevertheless, Annette Glücklich, a star of local gastronomy, complained that it is no longer worth anything to be a restaurateur and asked the other panelists whether it was not worth considering introducing a kind of “certificate of competence” for gastronomy. Gereon Haumann agreed happily. In his opinion, higher hurdles at the beginning would mean lower burdens, i.a. through bureaucratic burdens, later. Jürgen Vogel, deputy managing director of the Chamber of Commerce in Ludwigshafen, as well as Johannes Steiniger saw this however differently. Vogel insisted on the easy market access as an achievement of the German economic system and added that a good education would not automatically lead to more quality in the sector. Steiniger joined in and expressed his concern, that more demanding entry conditions would make gastronomic professions not necessarily more respected. Sebastian Steuber, managing director of the Ketschauer Hof and host of the evening, also warned about "overeducating" the system, as this would lead to a lack of staff in the companies.

Annette Gluecklich talking about the profession of gastronome

Annette Glücklich, a star of local gastronomy; © Andreas Henn

Tweet about the gastronomy profession

Tweet about gastronomy professions; © METRO AG

Jürgen Vogel discussing the market access

Jürgen Vogel, deputy managing director of the Chamber of Commerce in Ludwigshafen; © Andreas Henn

At this point, a guest of the event argued that the gastronomy would benefit massively from tax relief. This would allow restaurateurs to invest more in the quality of their businesses. He drew attention to the reduced VAT rate of 7% for the entire gastronomy sector, which DEHOGA had been demanding for a long time, and received thunderous applause for his efforts. Steiniger, also member of the finance committee in the German Bundestag, appealed to the restaurateurs to exert even more pressure.

Last but not least, digitisation is also an important topic for the restaurateurs at the Wine Route. Jürgen Vogel complained about a lack of internet access in Rhineland-Palatinate, although more and more tourists are looking for hotels and restaurants on the Internet. At this point, Thomas Klein, Member of the Management Board of METRO Germany, drew the attention on the digital tools that METRO offers its customers.

At the end of the evening, it could be said that all restaurateurs have to join forces. Only in this way could the demands for a reduced VAT rate, for less red-tape and for greater recognition of restaurateurs in politics be heard.

A guest questioning the complex VAT system

Question regarding the complex VAT system; © Andreas Henn

Further impressions of the event