Brexit has “messed up 2019 holiday bookings” and risks the livelihoods of thousands of travel sector employees, Aito has warned.
The association has written to new prime minister Boris Johnson, urging him not to take the “nuclear option” and rule out a no-deal Brexit.
It comes after Johnson in recent days doubled down on his conviction to lead the UK out of the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal.
“The travel industry is not alone in despairing at its future if there is a no-deal Brexit on 31 October,” said the letter, co-signed by Aito chairman Derek Moore and its director of industry issues Noel Josephides.
“We urge you to think anew. Yes, we know Brexit is your key aim – but does it have to be a no-deal Brexit [that will] cause so much collateral damage and pain to so many?”
Moore and Josephides said hardest hit would be Aito’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which employ 3,500 people in the UK, send 700,000 on holiday every year, and turn over more than £1 billion a year, generating significant tax revenue for the government.
“SMEs are the backbone of the UK’s economy,” said Aito. “We wrote to Jeremy Hunt three weeks ago about the comments he made to Andrew Marr that he would willingly tell people whose companies went bust after a no-deal Brexit ‘their sacrifice was necessary’. We regard his comment, made in respect of all UK-based SMEs, to have been cavalier in the extreme.
“We believe, based on your actions since becoming prime minister, you share the same views. Whether our members and their employees voted leave or remain, they certainly did not vote to destroy their businesses by adopting a no-deal Brexit.
“Neither did they anticipate the Conservative Party using them as sacrificial lambs. A great number of livelihoods, including those involving families of all ages, are at stake amid the bluster and the campaigning that has gone on.
“Your government has, over the past three years, done much to damage the reputation of the UK abroad. We have been seriously let down by the so-called ‘business party’. We need to know from you what the prospects are for the travel industry, especially the specialist sector in which Aito sits.
“Our main markets are all EU members, and EU members are close colleagues of ours. The whole Brexit scenario has messed up consumer holiday bookings in their entirety for 2019, with the British public hugely confused about whether they should or shouldn’t book/could or couldn’t travel to Europe on holiday this year. A no-deal Brexit will simply increase prices for all those travelling to Europe.”
Aito has also requested an urgent meeting with Johnson to discuss matters relating to the travel sector and the UK’s proposed departure from the EU.
TTG has approached Boris Johnson’s office and invited Number 10 to detail the prime minister’s proposed engagements with the travel industry after his very public courting of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, among others, in recent days.