UKinbound members want ‘strong relationship’ with EU

UKinbound is demanding a review of the new government’s approach to the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

The leading trade association says the result of the general election – which led to prime minister Theresa May having to seal a deal with the Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland to keep a minority Conservative government in power – demonstrates that voters are against a ‘hard Brexit’.

The association surveyed its members regarding the new government’s tourism priorities and is calling on the Conservatives and DUP to implement a strong deal for the sector and visa reforms as part of Brexit negotiations.

Of those who responded to the poll, conducted in May before the general election, 75% of respondents said that the implementation of a strong sector deal, as part of an industrial strategy, and the improvement of the visa process for key markets, are their top priorities.

With negotiations due to begin next week, UKinbound highlighted to the new government that the UK’s tourism industry employs more than three million people across the country and was responsible for contributing more than £22 billion to the UK economy last year.

UKinbound wants the government to address the following points during Brexit negotiations:

• An immigration system flexible to business needs – residency rights for EU workers
• Continued access to the European open skies agreement
• Visa-free travel between the UK and the EU
• A ‘strong narrative’ promoting the UK as a welcoming destination

Deirdre Wells (pictured), UKinbound chief executive, said: “The general election result clearly shows that the electorate is against a hard Brexit, and so is the UK inbound tourism industry.

“Our members are calling for a continued strong relationship with the EU and the implementation of a sector deal that addresses issues such as the customs union, open skies agreement and residency rights for EU workers.

“For inbound tourism to prosper long-term we need the Conservatives and DUP to champion our industry.”

She spoke ahead of the government reshuffle which saw Michael Gove, one of the driving forces behind Brexit, return to the front bench as environment secretary.

Chris Grayling retained his position as transport secretary and Karen Bradley remains as culture secretary.

The role of UK tourism minister has been handed to Salisbury MP John Glen just days after it was suggested that former incumbent Tracey Crouch had been re-appointed.

Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, has instead been given the position of minister for sport and civil society.

She held the tourism brief alongside sport and heritage prior to the general election.