Graphic Business News

ABTA stresses urgency of aviation Brexit deal

By: Graphic Business

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has stressed to government the need to secure aviation arrangement on Brexit as a matter of urgency.

The association was responding to a report on the potential impact of Brexit on creative industries, tourism and the digital single market by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The committee’s report published today said, “It is important that the government sets out progress on negotiations regarding the single aviation market, and reassures the tourist industry that contingency plans are being made in the event of no deal.”

ABTA Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer said, “We’re pleased the DCMS committee has recognised the significant value tourism brings to the UK economy and, in particular, the need to make progress on aviation arrangements as part of the Brexit discussions.

“Aviation access in Europe after Brexit is a critical issue for the travel industry – many existing airline routes are secured through EU-negotiated agreements, so reaching an agreement, whereby these arrangements are retained or replaced, is a matter of urgency.

“Visa-free travel, the ability to post workers overseas and valuable consumer rights, such as the European Health Insurance Card, help people travel with confidence and should also be priority issues in the Brexit discussions.”

And he warned, “It is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to plan ahead, agreeing transitional arrangements as soon as possible this year would provide some certainty for travel companies and help protect consumer confidence.”

The committee found that the “overwhelming message” from businesses and organisations across the creative industries and tourism sectors was to retain the access to the talent needed from outside the UK, particularly as a large percentage of the international workforce supporting them is made up of EU nationals.

It highlighted that travel and tourism is the fourth largest industry in the UK, contributing in excess of £130 billion to the economy.

The creative industries employed 1.9 million people across the UK in 2015. Meanwhile, the technology and digital sector grew 32 per cent faster last year than the rest of the economy, boosting GDP by around £145 billion a year.

Committee Chairman, Damian Collins MP said: “The UK is a global leader in the creative and digital technology sectors, including telecommunications, and our tourism industry is also one of the largest and most innovative in the world. Our creativity, favourable production tax credits, and the access to talent, all underpin our success in these areas.

“The challenge of Brexit is to maintain these advantages in a new regulatory environment, and to remove uncertainty for businesses and organisations, in particular those that work from the UK, with employees, suppliers and customers across Europe.

“An honest assessment of likely outcomes of the Brexit negotiations – whether regarding regulatory equivalence or divergence, the workforce or the effects of losing direct EU funding – is needed from the government.

“London – Europe’s most visited city – is likely to be sufficiently well-established to withstand challenges from other potential European creative hubs, although other major European cities – including Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Dublin – do have ambitions of their own which should not be under-estimated.

“It is essential that we get clarity of proposed revised immigration rules and reliable data about possible skills gaps.

“British institutions are already missing out on funding. The government should publish a map of all EU funding streams that support tourism and creative projects.

“Brexit presents challenges for all these industries because of the uncertain nature of the future regulatory environment.

“The government should set out, as a matter of urgency, those areas it believes that Brexit offers an opportunity for beneficial regulatory reforms, and how it intends to capitalise on any such opportunities.

“It should also set out where it believes that maintaining equivalence would be the most favourable outcome, for the industries and consumers alike.”