A trade body representing the UK’s travel and tourism industry has called on the government to rethink its new immigration policy or risk “undermining the business model of many UK companies”.
ABTA, the Travel Association, has today released a paper demonstrating the importance of non-UK workers to the UK travel industry which outlines the challenges that will be faced unless aspects of the policy are reviewed.
The report urges the government to keep the £25,600 salary threshold for foreign workers “under close review” as it is “too high” for sector workers, for whom the average wage is £22,585.
It also asks for the government to agree to a reciprocal youth mobility deal with the EU to replace existing mobility arrangements, or else risk 15,000 UK jobs within the outbound travel industry.
The group points to research from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), which finds that nine per cent of all sector workers in the UK currently come from EU countries.
It also calls for foreign language skills to be added to the list of criteria for gaining the necessary 70 points required under the new immigration system.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s Chief Executive, says, “Tourism is one of the UK’s major success stories and jobs are at stake. The prosperity of the tourism industry doesn’t happen by accident, and the government has a responsibility to ensure that the right policies are in place to ensure our industry continues to have access to the talent it needs to succeed.
“Europe is the UK’s primary destination and market for tourists, business travellers and workers, and the future trade talks, as well as the UK’s new immigration system, will shape the travel and tourism industry for years to come.
“The government must listen and engage with our industry; we need to work together to get the right solution.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We’re ending free movement and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new points-based immigration system.
“Many people already in the UK say they want a job and businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living here, with more than 2.8m already granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
“Employers will need to join our mission to level-up skills and economic growth across the whole UK so that we deliver a high-skill, high-wage and highly productive economy.”
According to the paper, the UK tourism sector currently employs more than 1.5m jobs across the currently, and contributes £146bn to the economy every year.
The tourism industry is the latest to hit out at the new plans, which requires all EU immigration applicants will need to speak English, have a job offer in the UK with a salary of at least £25,600 and to have never been given a custodial sentence of 12 months or more.
Last week sector body UK Hospitality said that the new regulations would be “disastrous” for the industry, which largely relies on immigration.