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Published on Thursday, February 6, 2020

UK operators fear tourists will stay away from post-Brexit Britain


UKinbound says a negative and unwelcoming perception of the UK is its biggest challenge for members in 2020.

Some 60% of its members who took part in its latest Business Barometer survey said the UK's image as a result of Brexit was their biggest concern.

The second biggest problem was recruiting and retaining staff, which is an issue for 52% of its members, only 48% of whom believe they will be ready for Brexit by the end of the transition period on December 31.

Some 44% of tourism businesses say they don't know how long preparations will take. 

The Business Barometer survey, compiled by Qa Research, also looked at operating conditions in the final quarter of last year and found that bookings and visitor numbers were the same or up for 72% of members compared with the same period of 2018 while yields were up for 83% of members. 

One in three respondents said they were experiencing growth from the US market, while Germany and France continued to show the greatest decline.

In the fourth quarter, China was the second leading growth market for members, with some suggesting this will be a pivotal market post Brexit. However, a number of businesses said their 2020 optimism has wavered due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has hit travel from the country.

UKinbound CEO Joss Croft said "It is encouraging to hear that many of our members are experiencing strong forward bookings and that they're confident about business in 2020.

"However, there are significant challenges now and ahead for our members due to the impact of the coronavirus on the Chinese market, negative perceptions of the UK and the looming prospect of the end of free movement. 

"Our members are already struggling to recruit employees with foreign language skills and are worried about the administration involved in recruiting non-UK employees post Brexit. 

"We intend to work with the Government over the coming months to ensure that their new immigration policy treats the tourism industry fairly and if needed, we will campaign for an extension to the transition period so that businesses have enough time to prepare and adapt."

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