Abta and UKinbound run parliamentary lobby to expand youth mobility

Abta and UKinbound have jointly lobbied MPs to stress the importance of addressing UK-EU labour mobility for the travel industry.

The two trade associations organised a parliamentary drop-in session to highlight to MPs and Peers across all parties the challenges outbound and inbound businesses are facing around labour mobility.

Outbound businesses need UK staff working in EU resorts to support customers, while inbound companies rely on EU staff and their language skills to support overseas visitors and provide the world-class welcome they expect. 

But the routes to employ UK staff in the EU, and vice versa, are limited following Brexit. 

Those that do exist are proving resource and time intensive as well as costly, the associations argue.

Abta and UKinbound want the government to expand the youth mobility scheme to EU countries, and to consider more liberal mobility arrangements for tourism workers as part of the upcoming review of the UK-EU trade deal in 2026. 

It is already in place for some countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. They claim it is a simple solution which would bring mutual benefits.

But the growth of the sector is at risk without suitable arrangements in place.

Abta public affairs director Luke Petherbridge said: “It’s important we keep up the momentum with politicians around the challenges travel companies are facing employing staff UK staff in the EU, and vice versa. We know that it is damaging business and is a threat to growth.

“It is also stifling young people’s opportunity to develop careers within the sector. Many travel leaders started their careers working abroad, and without this route into careers in travel we risk losing great talent to other industries.

“We conveyed these messages strongly when we spoke to MPs yesterday and it was good to see so many engage in this issue and be supportive of the industry’s ask to extend the youth mobility scheme.”

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) already exists – we now need to see this expanded to more countries, especially in the EU. 

“This is low hanging fruit for any government. This isn’t an immigration issue as there is no right to remain – but this is a concrete way that young people can learn a new language, develop lifelong associations with the host countries and gain new skills that will benefit them throughout their career.

“This is a powerful soft power mechanism that establishes cultural, political, and business links between countries. 

“The parliamentarians we spoke to yesterday were able to see the potential economic and social impacts for their constituents. 

“It is important that the government proactively pushes this programme bilaterally and across the EU, with an opportunity to extend this further, by including YMS in any future trade deals.”

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