Our research helps uncover the risk to UK tourism industry from post-Brexit immigration proposals

Immigration reforms following Brexit could severely destabilise Britain’s tourist industry.

That is the striking conclusion of research we were involved in for UKinbound.

We supported research project leaders Canterbury Christ Church University to evaluate the tourist sector’s concerns about the UK’s immigration policy after we leave the European Union.

And together we uncovered widespread anxiety about its potential to damage the industry which contributes £145 billion (7.2% of UK GDP) to the UK economy.

Two thirds of tourism business feared that the reforms could lead to closures.

Unique pressures

Researchers from Qa conducted an online survey with members of multiple UK tourism bodies and associations including ABTA, UK Hospitality and UKinbound.

This helped to cast new light on the sector’s reliance on EU workers. Nearly one-third of businesses reported that EU workers made up more than half their workforce.

Considering the potential impact of a national skills-based immigration system on the sector, the survey showed that:

Qa Research Managing Director Richard Bryan said: “Our work with UKinbound and Canterbury Christ Church University has revealed deep-seated concerns across the tourism sector about the ability of businesses to operate and expand under these proposals.

“It demonstrates how Brexit places unique and significant pressures on the UK tourist industry.”

Informing a response

The survey results will help the tourism and hospitality sector to respond to consultations about future immigration policy when the UK leaves the European Union and free movement ends.

Joss Croft, Chief Executive of UKinbound commented: “This timely research shows that the Government must listen to the tourism industry before committing to an immigration system that runs the risk of forcing businesses to close throughout the UK.”

And the research shows that the industry would be placed “in an extremely vulnerable position when faced with the end of free movement” says Dr Karen Thomas, Director of the Tourism and Events Hub, Canterbury Christ Church University.

“EU workers constitute a vital labour pool for tourism and hospitality businesses,” she said. “Our research demonstrates that national reporting of the reliance of the sector on EU nationals masks the realities of many tourism and hospitality businesses in terms of the scale of reliance, and the significant variations in sub-sectoral, occupational and regional experiences.”

What we do

Qa Research undertakes a wide range of research, insight and evaluation studies for tourism organisations including visitor attractions, destination marketing / management organisations , trade bodies and associations as well as national parks, AONB’s and conservation charities.

Core topic areas include visitor satisfaction studies, new concept / product demand testing, pre and post advertising research and evaluation, membership insight, business barometer surveys, potential visitor perceptions, new brand development and brand refinement research and much more.

Find out more about the work we’ve done within the tourism sector by contacting Kathrin Tennstedt on kathrin.tennstedt@qaresearch.co.uk