Travel industry welcomes plans for talks on young Brits working in Europe

Young Brits working in Europe
By Linsey McNeill
19/04/2024
Home » Travel industry welcomes plans for talks on young Brits working in Europe

ABTA and campaign group Seasonal Business in Travel (SBiT) have welcomed an announcement from the European Commission that it’s open to a discussion on a youth mobility agreement with the UK.

The Commission has recommended to the Council that negotiations be opened with the British Government.

Such an agreement would make it easier for young Brits to live, work and study in Europe for a temporary period, typically up to two years, without the need to obtain a full visa.

It would also allow young Europeans to come to the UK under a similar arrangement.

ABTA said the travel industry has been hit by post-Brexit restrictions on the mobility of young people, since they’re now required to apply for visas and work permits for jobs such as reps, chalet hosts and nannies in the EU, and there are limits on the number issued.

Research by ABTA and SBiT found that the number of UK nationals working in tourism roles across Europe has fallen 69% since Brexit, but outbound operators need UK staff to work in EU roles to support their customers, they said.

Likewise, inbound operators and domestic tourism businesses require EU nationals with language skills to look after their customers in the UK.

ABTA Director of Public Affairs Luke Petherbridge said: “We strongly welcome today’s announcement and urge the UK government to be ready to begin negotiations should the Commission’s proposal be accepted by the member states.

“Post-Brexit restrictions on UK-EU labour mobility have undoubtedly been detrimental to the UK travel and tourism industry, whether outbound, inbound or domestic. However, the impacts are being most keenly felt by young people, who are now less able to access the roles that have previously proven a springboard for successful careers, as well as providing enriching and rewarding experiences.

“ABTA has long argued that youth mobility should be a priority for both sides as we seek to rebuild relations post-Brexit, and we hope that negotiations can now begin quickly.”

Diane Palumbo, Sales and Marketing Director of Skiworld, one of the UK’s largest chalet operators, said: “Youth mobility will open back up much needed opportunities for young people to work and gain competences overseas with our biggest trading partner. We need to build the foundations of a skills-based economy and investing in our 18 – 30 years olds is fundamental to this. 

“For us in the travel sector, and I would think our colleagues in hospitality, a reciprocal mobility scheme for young people is a win-win for our businesses and can only help us grow to meet customer demand – and make an even bigger contribution to much needed economic growth. 

“There are still important negotiations to undertake and this is possibly the most important part. So we will be encouraging our Government to take this opportunity and will be ready to contribute all we can to these negotiations.”

Managing Director of Seasonal Businesses in Travel Charles Owen said: “A reciprocal youth mobility scheme is a win-win for both Europe and the UK, and in particular for UK travel businesses operating in the EU.

“Momentum is building to get this deal done and we implore the Prime Minister to engage in conversations with the outbound industry to prepare for the upcoming negotiations appropriately. 

“This is a serious economic and cultural issue.”

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