UKinbound has released its manifesto which calls upon any future government to support the tourism industry thrives not only during Brexit, but after.
Chief executive Joss Croft urged whoever wins the general election on 12 December to focus on talent, trade, taxation, transport and transition.
He made the demands following the association’s release of its Business Barometer results which show that although business confidence has dropped to a 2019 low, bookings and revenues have held strong in the industry which employs more than three million people and contributes £23 billion to the UK economy.
Croft said a key demand for the government was taking care of the industry during and beyond any agreed Brexit transition period.
This would include visa-free access for EU visitors and ongoing protection for WEU workers; continued strong promotion of the UK and continued access to the Single Market, Customs Union and Open Skies agreement.
In addition, Croft has urged the future government to extend the December 2020 transition period deadline; implement and build on the Tourism Sector Deal to ensure tourism is considered within wider policy changes and agree to sufficient funding for VisitBritain in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.
Furthermore, he urged whoever is in power after the election to ensure the industry has enough talent and skills to grow; can trade effectively; is taxed less; has a level regulatory playing field for all tourism businesses; and that the UK’s transport infrastructure is fit for purpose.
Croft said: “With the right support, the UK’s inbound tourism industry has the capability to keep growing and innovating.
“Our manifesto sets out a clear pathway to achieve this but we need a government that will listen and act to ensure the success story continues.
“There is no room for complacency. Our industry continues to be very worried about the impact of Brexit, particularly with the end of free movement, as parts of the industry rely heavily on EU nationals.
“Our key asks of the next government include recognition that language skills are in short supply amongst British nationals and to rethink the proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for non-British nationals wishing to work in the UK tourism industry post Brexit.”
The manifesto was launched as results of UKinbound’s business barometer were released for August and September this year.
The results show that even though 75% of respondents saw customer numbers grow year on year and 80% said yields were similar or up for the same period.
However, despite the positive results just 47% of respondents said they were confident the about the upcoming 12 months, the lowest in the year although 7 percentage points higher than the same period in 2018.
Croft said Brexit was the main reason for this, with 21% of members experiencing a decline from either the German, French or Spanish market.
However, he added the long-haul market continues to perform well for many businesses with 22% of respondents stated that the US is the main market they are currently experiencing growth from, while 20% stated this was the case for the Chinese market.
Croft said: “Despite the ongoing political uncertainty, it’s positive to see that many tourism businesses across the UK are continuing to see bookings and revenues increase year-on-year, and that our long-haul markets are performing well.”