Travel firms say Brexit is worse for industry than COVID

Brexit impact worse than COVID, travel firms say
By Harry Kemble
15/06/2023
Home » Travel firms say Brexit is worse for industry than COVID

Around 78% of businesses say Brexit will have a more significant long-term impact on their future than COVID.

ABTA’s Unlocking Travel’s Potential report said 22% of businesses had seen more than a 30% fall in profit since 2017.

Around 90% of respondents believe an agreement on youth mobility to and from the EU would help their growth in the next five years.

The research took place between 25 April and 15 May this year and involved an anonymous survey completed by 127 travel companies selling holidays to the EU.

ABTA said hiring UK seasonal staff was the top concern among the businesses, above the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and other economic conditions.

The report also found the number of Brits working in holiday roles in the EU has decreased from 11,970 in 2017 to 3,700, a 69% drop.

ABTA warned that companies’ ability to hire Brits to work in the EU was ‘more limited following the UK’s departure from the EU’.

The trade association highlighted how employing Brits as chalet hosts, holiday reps and tour guides had ‘been a fundamental part of UK holiday operations in popular EU summer and winter destinations’.

The report found 38% of staff working for UK travel businesses have spent a season working abroad, rising to 49% of senior managers.

Around 61% of UK travel companies surveyed for the report said problems hiring UK seasonal staff could reduce their possibilities for growth over the next five years.

It is now estimated to cost an additional £880 to recruit a Brit to work a season in France.

Alongside trade body Seasonal Businesses in Travel (SBiT), ABTA is calling on the UK and EU governments to work together to address challenges travel companies face when they try to employ staff in EU countries like Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Austria.

They want the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) to be extended to EU countries, seek an enhanced seasonal mobility for tourism workers and, finally, an agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications among EU countries and the UK.

In terms of seasonal mobility, the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement currently only applies to certain job roles and limits stays to 90 days in any 180-day period.

ABTA CEO Mark Tanzer said: “It can’t be emphasised enough just how fundamental being able to work abroad is for the UK travel industry.

“Not only do people gain those important language and soft skills, they’re also set on a path for a good career and many become leaders in the industry.”

He added: “With the UK outbound travel industry contributing £49 billion a year to the UK economy, and a major driver of growth, not putting in the right mobility arrangements with the EU could come at a cost to UK plc.

“Yet there are simple and sensible solutions to overcome these barriers, and I’d urge ministers to make this a priority and take action urgently.”

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