WTM 2017: survey reveals Brexit staffing fears

As many as two in five UK-based holiday companies fear Brexit will hit their ability to recruit staff from overseas.

A survey for World Travel Market London found that just over 40% of UK firms who employ foreign workers anticipate recruitment will be affected when the UK leaves the European Union.

The World Travel Market London 2017 Industry Report also found that more than half (53%) of all trade respondents believe Brexit has already had a negative impact on the UK’s reputation as a holiday destination, and a similar proportion (55%) feel the UK’s exit from the EU will have a negative impact on their company or organisation.

Furthermore, 16% anticipate they will have to increase prices because of Brexit. The findings reflect those in other recent trade surveys, such as UKinbound’s poll of its members.

Some UKinbound members reported that more than 20% of their EU national employees have already left the UK “because of the long-term uncertainty over their status”, and almost half of respondents are having difficulties recruiting EU staff because of Brexit.

Etoa, the European tour operator association, surveyed its members about EU staff and found that about 20% of companies are “actively contemplating” relocation because of the problems of Brexit.

Research for the British Hospitality Association warned there could be a shortfall of up one million workers after 10 years if EU migration is curtailed completely.

The trade associations highlighted how crucial EU workers are to UK firms, especially because of their language and service skills – and warned there are not enough Brits with the right expertise who can fill the gap.

Simon Press, WTM London senior director, said: “Brexit is already having a profound impact on the travel industry – the fall in sterling since the referendum has been one very visible consequence, but the ramifications of the vote go much deeper.

“Research reveals how UK companies are now finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain skilled and valuable European Union employees, and there is a great deal of uncertainty about the freedom of movement for workers in the future.”

Picture credit: ©VisitBritain/Rod Edwards