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UKinbound calls for visa-free access for EU visitors post-Brexit

Travel association UKinbound has launched its manifesto for the UK’s inbound tourism industry, calling on the incoming Government to carry on visa-free access for EU visitors and ongoing protection for EU workers, as well as an extension of the December 2020 transition period.

The document focuses on four key areas: talent, trade, taxation, transport and transition.

Inbound tourism brings in £23bn to the UK economy annually, employing more than 3m people. It is country’s fifth biggest exporter in terms of revenue.

As well as insisting on visa-free access for EU visitors and protection for EU workers, the manifesto calls on Government to support the industry by representing its priorities beyond the Brexit transition period, including continued strong promotion of the UK as a welcoming destination and access to the Single Market, Customs Union and Open Skies agreement.

UKinbound is also asking for sufficient funding for VisitBritain in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review and a reduction in taxation, as visitors to the UK are some of the most highly taxed in the world.

The manifesto also calls for a level playing field for all tourism businesses including those in the sharing economy such as AirBnb.

Commenting on the manifesto, UKinbound CEO Joss Croft said: “The UK’s inbound tourism industry has the capability to keep growing and innovating. Our manifesto sets out a clear pathway to achieve this, but we need a Government that will listen and act to ensure the success story continues.

 “There is no room for complacency. Our industry continues to be very worried about the impact of Brexit particularly with the end of Free Movement as parts of the industry rely heavily on EU nationals.

“Our key asks of the next Government include recognition that language skills are in short supply amongst British nationals and to re-think the proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for non-British nationals wishing to work in the UK tourism industry post Brexit.”

UKinbound’s full Manifesto can be viewed online here

Revenues holding steady

The association has also announced its latest Business Barometer results, showing that although business confidence has dropped to a 2019 low, bookings and revenues are holding steady for the industry.

Based on member feedback regarding business operating conditions in August and September 2019, 75% of respondents said their bookings/visitor numbers/customer orders were similar or higher than August/September 2018. Similarly, 80% of businesses stated that yields were similar or up during to the same periods.

A range of reasons for this were cited, including the low exchange rate and positive growth from the Chinese and American markets.

However, industry confidence has dipped to its lowest level in 2019, with just 47% of businesses stating they are confident about the upcoming 12 months. This is however higher that the 40% figure recorded from September/October 2018.

Brexit continues to be the dominant cause of lower confidence levels, with 21% of members experiencing a decline from either the German, French or Spanish market. 

In contrast, the long-haul market continues to perform well for many businesses. 22% of respondents stated that the USA is the main market they are currently experiencing growth from, while 20% stated this was the case for the Chinese market.

Croft added: “Despite the ongoing political uncertainty, it’s positive to see that many tourism businesses across the UK are continuing to see bookings and revenues increase year-on-year, and that our long-haul markets are performing well.”

UKinbound’s Business Barometer was compiled in conjunction with Qa Research.