The UK’s economic recovery is being threatened by significant vacancies in the travel and tourism sector.
According to a report published today by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), 128,000 industry jobs go unfulfilled in Britain, with one in 14 jobs remaining vacant.
Figures revealed that the UK’s hotel industry was the worst hit as unfulfilled vacancies reached 18 per cent. Hotels were followed by entertainment’s 12 per cent and aviation’s 11 per cent.
“Travel & Tourism contributed nearly £235bn to the economy and employed almost two million people,” said WTTC’s chief executive Julia Simpson.
“Now visitors are arriving to find restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues without staff, and we will lose these travellers and their dollars to other countries.”
The chief executive blamed the situation on the government’s refusal to grant temporary visas to overseas workers.
“Big brands cannot understand why countries in Europe are bringing in skilled workers like chefs, but the UK Home Office is not deploying the flexible ‘point system’ visas they promised,” she added.
“The sector was one of the hardest hit in the pandemic, losing 50 per cent of its value, it needs government action now.”
Simpson’s words were echoed by those of Kurt Janson, director of the Tourism Alliance, who said: “The government needs to work with the industry to develop a plan to resolve this problem that includes creative solutions such as agreeing Youth Mobility Scheme agreements with European countries that would allow people from 18-35 to come to the UK for up to two years.”
Commenting on the report, a Home Office spokesperson told City A.M. that, following the introduction of the points-based system, employers can now make long-term investment in the UK workforce, “instead of relying on cheap labour from abroad.”
“Many roles within the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors – including chefs, pilots, cabin crew and catering and bar managers – are eligible under the Points Based System,” they said.
“Firms can hire workers through the immigration system if they meet the required English language and salary thresholds and are sponsored by a registered Home Office sponsor.”
The remarks came after aviation industry called on the government to use more common sense when applying post-Brexit immigration rules – identified as one of the main reasons for the labour shortages that are currently plaguing airports and airlines.
“We have this bizarre situation at the moment that in the UK I can get visas to bring Moroccans to come in and work as cabin crew,” said Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary.
“But I can’t get visas for Portuguese or Italians or Slovakian youngsters.”