While the vote to leave the EU will be challenging for the industry, the Tourism Alliance believes that the impact will be similar to the Financial Crisis in 2008, when the domestic tourism industry was boosted by the fall in sterling combining with people’s uncertainty and economic uncertainty. Similarly, the drop in sterling will encourage more overseas visitors to come to the UK.
Through the Financial Crisis the tourism industry showed its strength and value to the UK economy by boosting export earnings by 26.5% to £24bn per annum and providing a third of all additional jobs in the UK economy between 2010 and 2013.
Although there will be considerable challenges to the sector associated with leaving the EU, such retaining the skilled and highly valued European staff on which the sector depends, we are confident that the UK tourism industry will repeat this level of performance.
Therefore, the Tourism Alliance is calling on the Government to do four things:
- The outcome of the referendum means that a decision on additional aviation capacity in the South East is more important than ever - it is not a rationale for delay.
- As the tourism industry has proved that it can provide the economic growth the country urgently requires, the Government needs to remove the twin handbrakes of Air Passenger Duty and VAT on accommodation.
- The UK’s cultural attractions, rural tourism businesses and tourism-dependent regions such as Cornwall rely on European funding. This funding needs to be replaced.
- Tourism needs to be included in negotiations with the EU to ensure that as many as possible of the current benefits that facilitate travel between the UK and the rest of Europe are retained such as membership of the single EU aviation market.
There is no doubt that, with the right policies and incentives in place, the UK tourism industry will provide the growth that the UK economy needs through the forthcoming period of transition.