Almost half of travel and tourism companies employing overseas workers fear Brexit will make it difficult to recruit foreign staff, according to research from World Travel Market London, released at the event today (Monday 7 November).
When asked if Brexit will affect the ability to recruit staff from overseas, 42% of firms which recruit migrant workers said they would face a struggle. And their fears have since been compounded by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd discussing controversial plans to make firms list all the foreign workers they employ.
The UK tourism and hospitality industry is already tackling a growing staffing crisis but if the government cracks down on European Union workers, they would face an exodus of employees – which many firms and trade bodies fear would stifle growth in the sector.
The WTM London survey of 2,044 firms also found that 42% believe the referendum vote has had a negative impact on the UK’s reputation as a holiday destination.
Almost half (47%) predict Brexit will have a negative impact on their organisation and 30% will seek to increase prices.
The survey findings mirror those of other trade bodies, such as UKinbound, which represents 370 inbound firms. About 30% of their workers are EU nationals.
UKinbound campaigned vociferously for the ‘remain’ campaign in the run-up to the referendum and is now lobbying MPs for continued access to the single market to ensure the free movement of people. It warned: “The success of the tourism industry is heavily reliant on securing high-quality staff and the sector persistently struggles to fill vacancies. If employers are no longer able to draw on a pool of highly motivated and engaged workers across the EU there could be serious implications for the industry’s potential for growth.”
The British Hospitality Association also warned the sector’s longer-term future is under serious threat if there is a clampdown on migrant workers. Ufi Ibrahim, BHA Chief Executive, said: “We’re asking the government not to push our businesses to a cliff edge on immigration. “Our industry is extremely labour-intensive, employing 4.5 million people, so we want to see the Prime Minister as soon as possible – giving a message that people who are here and working and have jobs can stay.”
The immediate effect of June’s Brexit vote meant the value of the pound plunged, making the UK better value for foreign holidaymakers – and July was the highest month ever for inbound tourism, with 3.8 million visits, up 2% on July last year. However, the long-term impact of Brexit is uncertain, as Britain’s reputation overseas is affected and there is a tightening of immigration policy for EU nationals. And the uncertainty only increased after the Home Secretary’s announcement in October of further controls on migration. London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who launched the #LondonIsOpen initiative to allay concerns after the referendum – commented: “This sends a deeply worrying message to the millions of people from around the world living and contributing in our country.”
World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “Our research shows deep concerns in the travel trade about the long-term implications of Brexit – and many firms and tourism organisations who campaigned for the remain camp are now lobbying hard to get the best deal in a post-Brexit landscape.
“However, with increasing talk of a ‘hard Brexit’, it might be that their hopes for the free movement of workers are dashed, which would have severe implications on the tourism jobs market in the UK.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.
World Travel Market London
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
Almost 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM London.
WTM London is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM London will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.
WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa. www.wtmworld.com
Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with more than 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together more than seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.