25 Feb

New ABTA report reveals skills and immigration challenges facing UK travel and tourism under new immigration policy

The Association urges the Government to: 

  • Keep the salary threshold of £25,600, which ABTA believes is too high, under close review.
  • Reconsider lack of transitionary arrangements for low-skilled immigration to avoid serious short-term disruption. 
  • Add foreign language skills to points-based immigration system.
  • Negotiate new mobility arrangements and a youth mobility deal in upcoming EU trade talks.

Travel and tourism is one of the largest sectors of the UK economy, making an annual economic contribution of £146bn, it sustains more than 1.52m jobs directly, while supporting a similar number of jobs again within its supply chains. In a new report titled ‘Securing the future: how travel and tourism can attract the talent needed to sustain success’, ABTA – The Travel Association has set out the twin challenges facing the industry from UK immigration reforms, and upcoming talks on a future UK-EU trade deal.

Launched at ABTA’s ‘Brexit – The Immigration and Skills Challenge’ event in London on 24 February, in front of Government and senior representatives from across the UK travel and tourism industry, the report demonstrates the importance of non-UK workers to the industry and urges the Government to listen to the employment and skills needs of travel and tourism businesses.

ABTA research, commissioned from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr), shows that 13% of the travel and tourism industry workforce is made up of non-UK workers, with 9% of all travel and tourism workers coming from EU countries. With the UK enjoying record high rates of employment, businesses will face serious difficulties in retaining and recruiting staff in the absence of any temporary entry-route for so-called low-skilled workers. The need to fill skills shortages and include foreign languages within the points-based immigration system is also highlighted.

With the imminent trade talks with the EU, ABTA is also asking the Government to agree a reciprocal youth mobility deal with the EU and underlines the importance of replacing existing mobility arrangements contained within the EU Posted Workers Directive. The report shows that if an alternative agreement is not secured, up to 15,000 UK-based jobs will be at risk within the outbound travel industry, undermining the business model of many UK travel companies. Due to the recent political uncertainty since the referendum in 2016 the number of UK workers under this scheme has already fallen by 30%.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s Chief Executive, says, “Tourism is one of the UK’s major success stories and jobs are at stake. The prosperity of the tourism industry doesn’t happen by accident, and the Government has a responsibility to ensure that the right policies are in place to ensure our industry continues to have access to the talent it needs to succeed.

“Europe is the UK’s primary destination and market for tourists, business travellers and workers, and the future trade talks, as well as the UK’s new immigration system, will shape the travel and tourism industry for years to come. The Government must listen and engage with our industry; we need to work together to get the right solution.” 

As part of the report, ABTA commissioned research on the travel and tourism industry’s labour market revealing:

  • The average full-time salary for employees in the tourism industry is £22,585 (UK average £28,759).
  • The UK travel and tourism industry is a key employer of young people – 27% of tourism workers are under 30 (UK average 17%).
  • Women make up 52% of the industry workforce (UK average 47%).
  • 16% of all tourism businesses currently report a skills shortage.

ABTA’s report ‘Securing the future: how travel and tourism can attract the talent needed to sustain success’ can be downloaded free from www.abta.com/securingthefuture

For further information, contact:
Jonathan Smith, Interim Head of Media & PR, 0203 117 0596 or press@abta.co.uk

Out of Hours: contact the duty press officer 020 3693 0183
Web: www.abta.com
Twitter: @ABTAtravel

Notes to editors
ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for 70 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence. 

The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members. 

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

ABTA has more than 4,300 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined annual UK turnover of £39 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.