Two thirds of UK tourism businesses fear Brexit immigration reforms

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Newly published research by UKinbound and Canterbury Christ Church University raises concerns that the Government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration reforms have the potential to severely destabilise the UK’s tourism industry. Anna Tobin reports

The UKinbound and Canterbury Christ Church University research says the Government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration reforms could put at risk an industry that contributes £145 billion to the UK economy. A survey of the UK tourism and hospitality industry was carried out as part of the research and it found that

  • 65% of respondents believe that the proposals would impact negatively on their ability to continue to operate
  • 71% of respondents believe that the proposals would impact negatively on their ability to expand
  • 75% of respondents believe that the proposals would impact negatively on their ability to remain competitive
  • 68% of tourism businesses cited the limited domestic labour market as the key reason for the continued need for EU workers
  • 80% of tour operators and destination management businesses cited the lack of home-grown talent with foreign language skills as the driving force behind the need for EU workers
  • Nearly one-third of businesses reported that EU workers made up more than half their workforce.

“This timely research shows that the Government must listen to the tourism industry before committing to an immigration system that runs the risk of forcing businesses to close throughout the UK,” said Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound. “Our tourism industry is vital to the UK economy and EU workers are crucial to ensuring that this success story continues. We have a skills shortage in the UK, caused not least by low levels of language skills and a lack of interest amongst UK nationals in the sector.

“The Government must, as a first step, ensure that language skills are recognised as a key skills shortage and ensure that any future immigration system is rooted in what actually works and not in populist soundbites.”

UKinbound is now calling for:

  • Language skills to be added to the occupation shortage list and to be exempt from immigration restrictions
  • If any salary threshold is proposed that it be regionally set to take into account lower salaries in key tourism hotspots such as the Lake District
  • Quarterly independent reviews to ensure tourism sectors are not adversely affected
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