Comment: We don’t need more red tape

Tom Jenkins, the chief executive of Etoa, the European tourism association, says that the sector needs workers from all skill levels

Much publicity has been given to the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations to prioritise skilled migrants, with no preference to European Union citizens.

The UK’s travel and hospitality industry has been vocal in saying that they will be hit hard – the industry has a need to draw on a pool of flexible, motivated workers who can speak languages other than English.

Unfortunately motivation, flexibility and language do not feature in the MAC’s definition of “skill”.

Talent pool

At the moment we have an EU talent pool of 500 million to recruit from freely.

If these recommendations proceed, EU applicants wanting to work in the UK will be required to go through Tier 2 immigration clearance.

Anyone with experience of Tier 2 knows that it is far from ideal: it is a highly restrictive and bureaucratic procedure.

We have surveyed ETOA members extensively about work visas. Those with experience of Tier 2 recruitment declared it to be a ‘nightmare’.

It requires elaborate form-filling, a minimum stipulated wage, extensive justifications for hiring the worker and a limbo period that can be weeks.

About 85% who experienced the Tier 2 system described it as “difficult to impossible” and nearly 80% of companies predicted a substantial detrimental impact on productivity if Tier 2 were extended to EU citizens.

We will have nowhere near the number of workers that we need from all skill levels. This is not a reduction in “red tape”, but a burdensome bureaucratic intervention on business.

European Tourism Summit

The UK is not alone in needing to improve its visa regime. Every destination needs to seek constant improvement in what it offers potential visitors.

Within the Schengen zone, visitors to the EU still experience high indirect costs associated with giving biometric data, and there appears to be insufficient consistency in the documentary evidence required.

The Etoa Tourism Summit on October 9 in Lucerne will examine the subject of visas in greater detail with MEP István Ujhelyi, chair of the European Parliament’s tourism task force, and member of the EU Parliament’s delegation to China leading discussions.

Speakers including MEPs, representatives from intergovernmental organisations and industry pioneers will lead sessions on tourism trends; destination management strategy and the potential impact of Brexit.

We are also delighted to announce that Bas Lemmens, chief executive of Meetings.com (part of Hotelplanner.com) and co-founder of Booking.com, will make a key speech about disruption and the contribution of entrepreneurs to the growth of the sector in Europe.

The Etoa European Tourism Summit is one of the five annual flagship B2B events Etoa organises for members, which offer unparalleled, face-to-face networking and contracting opportunities.

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