Abta has backed calls to preserve jobs in the UK tourism industry by reducing the salary threshold for new migrants following Brexit.
Under current proposals, migrants will need to have a job offer with a salary of more than £30,000 in order to get a work visa. Many entry-level and low-paid jobs in tourism and hospitality are currently filled by EU migrants, but UKinbound and other tourism organisations argue that once the UK leaves the EU, it will not be able to recruit staff if the £30,000 threshold is introduced.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on Salary Thresholds and a Points Based System has urged the government to lower the figure to £25,600.
Abta’s head of public affairs Luke Petherbridge said: “Abta is urging the government to go further to reduce the £30k general salary threshold. With 13% of all travel and tourism workers in the UK currently coming from EU countries, retaining the threshold, even at the lower level of £25,600, risks undermining the ability of businesses in the sector to attract the talent they need.
“The MAC report also suggests that government can address concerns about potential disruption by providing an entry route for low-skilled workers, at least temporarily. Alongside the industry’s continued investment in skills and training to develop tomorrow’s workforce, Abta urges the government to consider introducing such a scheme to support the UK’s vibrant tourism economy.”
Another issue concerning the industry is the EU Posted Workers Directive, which supports 15,000 UK jobs in the outbound sector, mainly as overseas staff. The Directive also allows EU staff to support tourists visiting the UK.
Petherbridge said: “Abta urges the UK government, and those within the EU, to recognise the important role mobility plays within the tourism industry and agree new reciprocal arrangements.”
UKinbound has also been vocal on the issue. Joss Croft, chief executive said: “Whilst there are several recommendations in today’s MAC report that we welcome, it is clear that there remain considerable challenges for the UK tourism industry (which currently employs substantive numbers of EU nationals), and it will have to adjust significantly under a new system.
"A reduction in the proposed salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600 (and from £20,800 to £17,920 for new entrants), whilst welcome, will not solve the skills shortage issue in an industry where the average full time wage is £23,000; and the rejection of the inclusion of part time workers (whose average salary is £17,000 and on which the industry relies to a significant extent) will also be detrimental.”