WTM research finds firms fear that Brexit will spark exodus of EU workers

WTM research finds firms fear that Brexit will spark exodus of EU workers

About two in five UK-based holiday companies expect Brexit will have an impact on their ability to recruit staff from overseas, according to research by World Travel Market London – the leading global event for the travel industry, released today (Monday 6 November) at the event.

A travel trade survey found that just over 40% of UK firms who employ foreign workers anticipate that recruitment will be affected when the UK leaves the European Union.

The World Travel Market London 2017 Industry Report also found that more than half (53%) of all travel trade respondents believe Brexit has already had a negative impact on the UK’s reputation as a holiday destination, and a similar proportion (55%) feel the British exit from the EU will have a negative impact on their company or organisation.

Furthermore, 16% anticipate they will have to increase prices because of Brexit.

The findings reflect those in other recent trade surveys, such as UKinbound’s poll of its members, who are tour operators and attractions catering for tourists visiting the UK.

Some UKinbound members reported that more than 20% of their EU national employees have already left the UK “because of the long-term uncertainty over their status”, and almost 50% of respondents are having difficulties recruiting EU staff because of Brexit.

ETOA, the European tourism organisation, surveyed its members about EU staff and found that about 20% of companies are “actively contemplating” relocation because of the problems of Brexit.

Research for the British Hospitality Association warned there could be a shortfall of up one million workers after 10 years if EU migration is curtailed completely.

The trade associations highlighted how crucial EU workers are to UK firms, especially because of their language and service skills – and warned there are not enough Brits with the right expertise who can fill the gap.

The WTM London researchers also quizzed UK consumers about their holiday habits and found that 83% of respondents said Brexit did not affect their choice of destination this year.

A similar proportion (81%) said they had not felt unpopular as a Brit abroad this year, following the referendum vote in 2016 – but 11% said they had.

Three quarters (74%) are concerned about the future impact that Brexit will have on their holidays, with rising costs cited as the main worry.

Just under half (46%) think Brexit will have no impact on their holiday choices next year, but 28% said it will have ‘some impact’ and 11% feel there will be a ‘significant’ impact on where they take their holiday.

World Travel Market London’s Paul Nelson, said: “Brexit is already having a profound impact on the travel industry – the fall in sterling since the referendum has been one very visible consequence, but the ramifications of the vote go much deeper.

“Research reveals how UK companies are now finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain skilled and valuable European Union employees, and there is a great deal of uncertainty about the freedom of movement for workers in the future.

“Our programme at this year’s WTM London will help delegates understand the implications more clearly – for example, our World Travel Leaders and aviation sessions will discuss the impact of Brexit, and our Leaders’ Lunch will feature the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt.”

For the industry report, there were 1,622 respondents, drawn from the trade around the world. For the consumer report, there were 1,025 respondents, who were representative of the UK population, and who had taken at least one holiday this year.

  • ETOA at WTM London: Stand GV300
    • UKinbound at WTM London: Stand UKI100, UKI300
  • World Travel Leaders Speak – UK Markets – What can we expect in 2018
    14:00-15:15, 6 Nov: WTM Inspire Theatre
  • Turbulent Skies & Challenging Times for the Airline Business
    15:30 -16:00, 6 Nov: WTM Inspire Theatre
  • The WTM Leaders’ Lunch (invitation-only event)
    11:00-13:30, 6 Nov: Platinum Suite 3 & 4


About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises five leading B2B events across four continents generating more than $7bn of industry deals. The five events are:


WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL – London every November generating around £2.8 billion of travel industry contracts. http://london.wtm.com/. Next event: 6-8 Nov 2017 – London.


International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) now in its 20th edition, is the meeting place for the global B2B golf travel community. More than 600 golf tourism suppliers join 350 pre-qualified buyers and 100 international press for four days of unmissable pre-scheduled appointments, exclusive networking opportunities and invaluable industry and trend updates. Taking place in a different destination every year, IGTM brings together 1,400 golf tourism professionals from over 65 countries. http://igtm.wtm.com/. Next event: 11-14 Dec 2017 – Cannes.


World Travel Market Latin America now in its fifth edition attracts about 9,000 unique senior executives. The event generates US$ 370 million of new business. Taking place in Sao Paulo Brazil, this show attracts a global audience to meet and shape the direction of the travel industry. More than 7,000 unique visitors attend the event to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry news. http://latinamerica.wtm.com/. Next event: 3-5 April 2018 – Sao Paulo.


World Travel Market Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors. http://africa.wtm.com/. Next event: 18-20 April 2018 – Cape Town.


About Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2017 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, agreeing deals worth US$2.5bn over the four days. The 24th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, making it the largest ATM in its 24-year history.  www.arabiantravelmarketwtm.com Next event 22-25 April 2018 – Dubai.


About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events business, enhancing the power of face to face through data and digital tools at over 500 events a year, in more than 30 countries, attracting more than 7m participants.


About Reed Travel Exhibitions

Reed Travel Exhibitions is the world’s leading travel and tourism event’s organiser with a growing portfolio of more than 22 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our events are market leaders in their sectors, whether it is global and regional leisure travel trade events, or specialist events for meetings, incentives, conference, events (MICE) industry, business travel, luxury travel, travel technology as well as golf, spa and ski travel. We have over 35 years’ experience in organising world-leading travel exhibitions.

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World Travel Market brings the travel industry together through world leading events, content and digital tools, that make it easier for you to find personal and business opportunities and do more effective business.

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