WTM survey highlights travel firms’ fear Brexit will spark exodus of EU workers

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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 findings come from a World Travel Market London 2017 Industry Report, which 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”.

ETOA, the European tourism organisation found that a fifth 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.

World Travel Market London’s Paul Nelson (pictured), 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.”

The industry report was based on answers from 1,622 respondents involved in the international travel trade.

WTM London takes place at ExCeL London, 6-8 November 2017.

  • The London transport network again let down delegates and exhibitors making their way to  the opening day of WTM, however. The DLR, Hammersmith & City, Bakerloo, Circle, District, London Overground, and Metropolitan lines were all affected due to power cuts, derailment, and signal failures.

    South West trains is warning of disruption all day after a train partially derailed at low speed between Wimbledon and Clapham Junction. Around 300 people were evacuated from the train and there were four minor injuries.

    Custom House DLR station is also closed. Visitors are advised to use DLR Prince Regent station, serving ExCel’s east entrance, instead.
    South West Trains is also facing a strike threat on 8-9 November.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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