Industry to Theresa May: make immigration system flexible

PM Theresa May is urged to put a 'flexible' immigration system in place to safeguard the future of tourism and hospitality in the UK following its departure from the EU

Tourism trade association UKinbound is urging Prime Minister Theresa May to create an immigration system that is ‘flexible’ to the needs of the UK’s hospitality and tourism sectors as well as create ‘the best possible trading environment for goods and services’ to help safeguard the industry’s future.

Delivering her Brexit speech yesterday (17 January) May said the Government would be controlling the number of people coming from the EU to work in the UK while still ‘attracting the brightest and the best to work or study in Britain.’

May also outlined trade plans, saying the UK could not remain part of the single market, but would ‘pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union’.

With 43 per cent of workers in the hotel, restaurant, pub and QSR sectors being foreign nationals and much of the sector dependent on products and services from outside the UK, UKinbound, said it was ‘imperative’ points were addressed ‘in order to ensure that Britain remains a prosperous, tolerant and global trading nation.’  


UKinbound chief executive officer Deirdre Wells said: “Regarding Britain’s withdrawal as a full member of the EU customs union, we urge the Government to implement the best possible trading environment for goods and services in order to avoid increasing costs to our industry. This means ensuring that there are cost-effective trade deals outside of Europe, whilst still benefiting from a tariff-free trade with Europe.”

“Furthermore, in order to achieve the Government’s ambition of making Britain a magnet for international talent, we need to have an immigration system in place which is flexible to business needs. The application process of tourist visas will also need to be eased in order to achieve this desired global approach for the UK.”

Wells said while it was 'disappointing' the UK would be leaving the single market, the agency, which represents 370 tourism businesses in the UK, would continue to liaise with the Government and its agencies to put issues from the tourism industry on the table during Brexit negotiations, including the Open Skies Agreement and recruitment of workers with language skills.

Separately, a forecast by The NPD Group shows that the British out-of-home foodservice market could grow visits by 0.4 per cent in 2017 to 11.34 billion and a further 1.6 per cent in 2018 to 11.52 billion under a 'soft Brexit'.

Forecasts for a 'hard Brexit' show visits dropping by -0.2 per cent to 11.28 billion in 2017 and an increase of 1.3 per cent to 11.43 billion in 2018. 

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