During its annual convention in Bristol, UKinbound CEO Joos Croft declared that the travel trade association would lobby the to extend the transition period following Brexit, as the industry struggles to find qualified staff with the right language skills.
The declaration was driven by findings from the organisations latest ‘Business Barometer’ results, showing that the negative perceptions of the UK is the biggest challenge for tourism businesses in 2020.
The top challenges for its members in 2020 include a negative and unwelcoming perception of the UK resulting from Brexit (60%) and recruiting and retaining staff (52%).
In addition, only 48% of tourism businesses taking part in the survey believe they will be ready for Brexit by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 with 44% of tourism businesses stating they don’t know how long preparations could take.
The results were amassed as part of the association’s January 2020 Business Barometer member survey, compiled by Qa Research, which also looked at business operating conditions in Q4 2019.
More positively, visitor numbers/bookings/customer order were the same or up for 72% of members in Q4 2019, compared to the same period last year. Similarly, yields were also the same or up for 83% of businesses over the same periods.
One in three respondents said they were experiencing growth from the US market, while Germany and France continue to be the most in decline markets.
In Q4 China was the second leading growth market for members, with some suggesting this will be a pivotal market post Brexit. However, a number of businesses said their 2020 optimism has wavered due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound commented “It is encouraging to hear that many of our members are experiencing strong forward bookings and that they’re confident about business in 2020.
“We will campaign for an extension to the transition period”
“However, there are significant challenges now and ahead for our members due to the impact of the Coronavirus on the Chinese market, negative perceptions of the UK and the looming prospect of the end of Free Movement. Our members are already struggling to recruit employees with foreign language skills and are worried about the administration involved in recruiting non-UK employees post-Brexit.
“We intend to work with the Government over the coming months to ensure that their new immigration policy treats the tourism industry fairly and if needed, we will campaign for an extension to the transition period so that businesses have enough time to prepare and adapt.”