Abta is to meet with senior officials in Brussels and EU ambassadors over the next few weeks in a bid to highlight the “very significant value” of UK outbound travel to both EU economies and in the UK.
It comes as the association released a new report today, identifying how UK travel to the EU stimulates economic growth, provides jobs and supports business – both across the EU and in the UK.
The report, Travelling Together: The Economic Value of UK Outbound Travel, highlights how the UK travel sector directly employs more than 380,000 people and supports more than 486,000 additional jobs in associated industries. In total, it said UK travellers support over 44,000 businesses across the EU.
More than 53 million trips were taken by Brits to EU countries in 2016 for holidays, business trips or visits to friends and relatives – an increase of more than 10% compared with 2015. Abta said this equated to 75% of all trips taken abroad by UK residents, while the number of visits from the EU to the UK in 2016 was almost 26 million.
The report also highlights that UK outbound travel remains hugely valuable to the UK itself.
The average UK traveller spends around £324 on their holidays before they’ve left the UK, while outbound travellers are worth more than £28.3 billion a year in aggregate GVA (gross added value).
The UK travel industry benefits the whole of the UK, providing direct employment for 214,000 people and supporting a further 169,000 indirectly.
Elsewhere Abta has identified seven of the most popular summer sun destinations in the EU, which it has dubbed the Sunshine Seven. These include Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta.
In 2016, more than 34 million UK travellers visited these destinations, with almost 540,000 jobs are linked to UK tourists, directly or indirectly across the seven countries.
The number one destination by far for UK travellers is Spain, which received 14.7 million visits by UK travellers in 2016. More than one in 20 Spanish businesses are connected to UK tourism.
It is Malta though which has the largest share of businesses linked to UK tourism Abta said, with 16% of the country’s companies connected to UK travel.
Commenting on the Brexit negotiations, Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “As Brexit negotiations continue, our message to policymakers at home and abroad is clear: the true economic value of UK outbound travel to both the EU and the UK must not be underestimated and it is vital that we are able to continue travelling confidently post-Brexit.
“Abta is urging both sides of the negotiations to reach a solution that secures these crucial rights, as quickly as possible. The EU is the UK’s largest travel destination, and UK outbound travel supports a huge number of jobs and small businesses across both the UK and EU.
"It is in the interests of all our citizens to find a long-term solution that works for everyone and enables us all to continue to travel with confidence.”