A boss of a ski operator has voiced her anger and questioned why – when faced with a global health crisis – the UK government did not ask to extend the EU withdrawal negotiations.
Speaking during TTG’s Agenda 2021 conference on Monday (7 December) Diane Palumbo, sales and marketing director at Skiworld, said “any sensible business would do that.”
“Could we not stop the clock – get the pandemic out of the way – and then sit down and calmly negotiate?”
Palumbo described a no-deal Brexit as “my worst nightmare”, adding how consumer uncertainty around “what happens at the borders? What happens with my passport? What happens with my EHIC card?” were all hugely impacting confidence and delaying bookings.
She was appearing as part of a panel examining how travel will be impacted post-Brexit and what it will mean for businesses across the sector.
Also speaking was The Independent’s Simon Calder, who said he felt the UK government had treated the travel industry as “collateral damage” in its mission to deliver Brexit – which he believed had been "driven by xenophobia" among some figures in Westminster.
"I don’t think we can blame the 17.4 million people who voted Leave for the way things have turned out. I don’t think many of them were doing it because they are far-right xenophobes who have got it in for the rest of humanity – but that is where we have ended up.
“We have to be prepared for things to get much worse before they very, very, very slowly get better,” he said. “My heart goes out to all the fantastic people in the travel industry who are still standing – despite coronavirus.
“The government has decided to wreck all that is great about international Britain.”
Outlining some of Brexit’s impacts upon travel firms, managing director EMEA at Intrepid Zina Bencheikh said recruiting European talent to work at the adventure specialist operator’s EMEA headquarters in London would prove “a real struggle” post-Brexit.
“There are requirements around minimum salary and around visas so that’s going to make the job to hire in the UK much for difficult than it was before.”
Palumbo, who is also a spokesperson for the Seasonal Businesses in Tourism (SBIT) group, said the organisation was lobbying for a post-Brexit “youth mobility scheme”.
She said almost 90% of the associations posted overseas workers in 2016 were aged between 18-34 arguing that demographic would be “the workforce worst affected by Brexit”.
“99% of the team in the [Skiworld] office have done seasons and they bring all of those skills to the industry and speak to customs with first-hand experience,” she said.
“We’re not talking about immigration here – we’re talking about work and life and business experience which is incredibly valuable.”
TTG’s Agenda 2021 conference continues tomorrow (8 December). To find out more and how to register, visit ttgmedia.com/agenda-2021