Travel chief says engaging with Government is ‘very difficult’ after minister warns ‘there’s no point in shouting’

UKinbound CEO Joss Croft
By Harry Kemble
16/06/2023
Home » Travel chief says engaging with Government is ‘very difficult’ after minister warns ‘there’s no point in shouting’

UKinbound CEO Joss Croft has dismissed the Aviation and Maritime Minister’s criticism of businesses lobbying efforts.

Baroness Vere told delegates at ABTA’s Travel Matters conference on Wednesday (14 June) there was ‘no point in shouting at the Government’ because it did not encourage ministers to step in and help.

“If you’re able to present an evidence-based argument to me, I’m very happy to go into bat for the industry,” she said, speaking about the ongoing recruitment issues facing UK companies post-Brexit that include both labour and skills shortages.  

“I can’t tell you how many industries tell me ‘We need foreign workers’.

“Tell me why. Present evidence of why and what skills you need that we don’t have.”

Joss, who attended the conference in Westminster, said engaging with the Government was currently ‘very difficult’ but insisted UKinbound always took a data-driven approach when discussing issues with MPs.

He told Travel Gossip: “We’ve had four tourism ministers over a period of 12 months, engaging with the government is very difficult but it has got a lot to deal with at the moment. 

“I don’t think [UKinbound] is shouting. I think we’re taking a data-driven approach but we’re not always getting what we want.

“I think the Government does listen, but I think it decides what it wants to prioritise.”

Joss admitted he had not had ‘a huge amount of engagement’ with Baroness Vere, but said the ongoing labour shortage was a global problem, rather than a UK-specific one.

However, he added: “It’s probably worse in the UK because hundreds and thousands of workers went home after Brexit. There’s not just a labour shortage but a skills shortage.”

To explain why there was a skills shortage in the inbound travel sector, he blamed the decline in UK students enrolling onto university language courses.

“It’s important to be able to speak foreign languages to our visitors,” he added. “Around 55% of visitors come to the UK via an intermediary like a tour operator. We need to be able to connect with these people.

“We’re about 16th in the world in terms of how we welcome our visitors. We were 11th in the world in 2013 after the Olympics.”

He called for the Youth Mobility Scheme to be extended to EU countries and for language skills to be added to the Government’s Occupation Shortage List.

If a job is listed, foreign workers can be paid 80% of the job’s usual going rate and qualify for a Skilled Worker visa.

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