Number of EU school visits to UK tanks after list of travellers’ scrapping
The number of EU school visits to the UK has tanked after the list of travellers’ scheme was scrapped in October 2021.
Data published today by the Tourism Alliance showed that the number of students sent to the UK through EU tourist operators plunged to around 37,000 – 83 per cent down on 2019 levels.
Following the end of the scheme – which allowed students in school groups to travel without a passport – European children have turned to English-speaking countries within the bloc, such as Ireland or Malta.
This has not only damaged the UK’s language school industry but it has dealt a hard blow to the country’s economy, as students in 2019 made a £1bn contribution to Britain’s local economy and supported 17,000 jobs.
“Student group travel was an important market for the UK economy,” said Tourism Alliance’s director Richard Toomer.
“What has happened to the UK’s once-strong English language school industry, is a prime example of the damage done by this policy and as a result the country is losing almost £1.5bn in export revenue.”
According to Tourism Alliance, the industry will not likely recover as the number of school groups will be down by 60 per cent next year, leading to a further loss of £600m.
“[Children] were exactly the kind of first-time visitors that we need to attract; not only would they return throughout their lives, but their experience of regional UK would be amplified back home,” Toomer added.
The chief executive called on the government to reinstate the scheme and recognise “ the extremely low risk represented by these child travellers, the negligible cost, and the positive economic impact.”
City A.M. has approached the Home Office for comment.