22 Jan

ABTA welcomes London Mayor’s calls on youth mobility

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called for young people to be able to move freely to and from the EU. ABTA has welcomed the Mayor’s comments, made in yesterday’s Observer, saying they reflect growing political support to extend the Youth Mobility Scheme, to EU countries to help UK staff work abroad and EU workers to come to the UK.

ABTA has been pushing hard on this issue in its lobbying work, including in a number of meetings over the past few weeks, as a way to partially address restrictions on labour mobility that have affected the outbound tourism industry post-Brexit.

The number of UK workers in tourism roles across the EU has fallen by nearly 70% since the end of the Brexit transition period.

Luke Petherbridge, Director of Public Affairs at ABTA said:

“We’re pleased to see a high-profile political figure like Sadiq Khan back the industry’s longstanding calls for youth mobility agreements with EU countries.

“We’ve been calling for action in this area, and we are seeing traction on the issue with politicians from all parties. In the Autumn Statement, the government acknowledged the potential of the YMS to support growth.

“A YMS deal would benefit all parts of the UK tourism industry, inbound, outbound and domestic, and also have a positive impact across the whole of the economy. It’s an ‘off-the-shelf’ policy solution that really should be seen as a win-win by everyone. It’s encouraging to see leading political figures getting behind it.”

ABTA has been raising labour mobility issues and education with MPs in meetings and at events in recent weeks.

Last week Luke spoke at roundtable event with Barbara Keeley MP, the Labour Shadow Tourism Minister and recently met with the Labour Spokesperson for Education in the Lords, Baroness Twycross, and Shadow Immigration Minister, Stephen Kinnock. 

Similar discussions have been had with the Liberal Democrat leads in the House of Commons on Transport and Climate Change, Wera Hobhouse MP, and Tourism, Jamie Stone MP. Both MPs were receptive to ABTA views, especially on youth mobility where they have promised to raise the matter with the Minister for Countering Illegal Immigration, Michael Tomlinson KC MP. 

Meanwhile, the issue was the focus of a joint ABTA-UKinbound parliamentary drop-in session in September last year and was also raised by ABTA in ministerial meetings with the International Trade and Tourism Ministers respectively.

ABTA says it will continue to push the issue up to and beyond the next General Election, with Director of Public Affairs, Luke Petherbridge and Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer, due to raise the issue with the Aviation Minister, Anthony Browne MP, when they meet at the end of the month.  

Underpinning the political engagement on this issue is the ABTA/SBiT report, Unlocking Travel’s Potential: The importance of UK-EU mobility for jobs and growth, which was published in June 2023.

Notes to editors
ABTA is a trade association for UK travel agents, tour operators and the wider travel industry. We’re the largest travel trade body, with over 4,600 travel brands in membership who have a combined pre-pandemic annual UK turnover of £40 billion. We work closely with our members to help raise and maintain standards and build a more sustainable travel industry, and provide travellers with advice, guidance and support.

Our members sign up to a code of conduct and commit to agreed service standards and fair trading. When you need clear travel information, and accurate and impartial advice relating to your trip, we’re here for you. When you book with an ABTA member, reliable advice comes as standard. This means that booking with our members brings peace of mind.

All this together means we help you travel with confidence. www.abta.com