Statistics from Barclays Bank show hotel and catering company start-ups rose by almost 50% between January and September this year against 2003. The figures show that 16,000 entrepreneurs started up new hotel or catering businesses during the period. Louise Fowler, Barclays marketing director of small business, put the rise down to ‘food obsessed’ Britons captivated by TV chefs who are now eating out more and more often. "Historically catering is an area which hasn't been as popular as other sectors for new business start-ups, so it's good to see numbers increasing," Fowler said.