UK travel leaders have urged the new government not to overlook the country’s inbound and outbound travel sectors and the value they deliver to the economy.
Boris Johnson’s Conservatives cruised to a decisive general election victory on Thursday (12 December), with the Tory party gaining almost 50 seats and a majority of at least 76 – the largest since 1987.
Labour, by comparison, shed nearly 60 seats, including some of its safest constituencies, while the pro-remain Liberal Democrats lost one seat, that of leader Jo Swinson.
Abta has said it will work with the new government to further build confidence in the travel sector, and has called on ministers to ensure the structures required to allow the travel sector to prosper are protected.
Aito chairman Derek Moore told TTG the result left him with “some trepidation, garnished with a touch of positivity”. “Much depends on how Boris reacts to his tremendous gain in power,” said Moore.
“Whether or not he remembers the referendum saw about half the country vote to remain, and softens his tone on Europe; and whether or not he will listen to the concerns and issues expressed by our industry, or just go his own way with his own agenda.
“Such absolute power does not always bode well when a party feels it can concentrate on what seem to them to be the big issues.
“There is a danger that if he attempts to enact even half the legislation he has talked about – help for the NHS, putting more police on the streets, money for this, money for that – then our [outbound travel’s] concerns might get overlooked.”
UKInbound chief executive Joss Croft sounded a more cautiously positive tone, calling for additional time to allow British businesses to prepare for Brexit.
“We welcome the new government and look forward to continuing our dialogue and working with them on the key priorities for the inbound tourism industry during the Brexit transition period and beyond," said Croft.
“The industry contributed £23 billion to the UK economy last year but in order to keep growing and flourishing, we need to have continued access to employees from all over the world, frictionless borders for our visitors post-Brexit, and continued strong promotion of the UK as a welcoming destination.
“We also urge the government to consider extending the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020 if needed so that businesses have enough time to prepare.”
Elsewhere, Sunvil founder Noel Josephides added that as a Remain supporter, he was disappointed by the result and the potential implications for UK-EU relations.
“I hope the prime minister sheds his hard-line stance towards Europe and remembers half the country voted to remain three years ago, and that millions of people now look to him to become a true statesman and to adopt a sensible and co-operative stance towards our European friends.”