Brexit means “continuing with uncertainty”, event professionals told

On the day Boris Johnson promised the UK would leave the European Union, “do or die”, the ETOA (European Tourism Association) gathered more than 100 industry professionals from across the leisure and business tourism sector to inform them what Brexit meant for the industry. There was, however, a clear elephant in the room: Brexit didn’t happen.

Despite Brexit negotiations being extended until 31 January 2020, the seminar still went ahead with the aim of sharing information with professionals from the tourism sector, including business tourism, on how a deal or a no-deal scenario might affect inbound and outbound tourism in the UK.

Professor Tony Travers from the School of Public Policy at London School of Economics kicked off the seminar at the Barbican Centre with the opening keynote speech.“Brexit means continuing with uncertainty and assuming it will happen one day, it will affect migration policy and produce new standards of varying kinds,” Travers said.

The main takeaway from the event – one that was echoed by each of the presenters – is that the tourism industry, both leisure and business, will be largely unaffected by any Brexit outcome up until the end of 2020, given that the UK does officially leave the EU after the withdrawal process.

The seminar’s agenda included a government overview from Alexandra Brown from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport followed by a talk from David Bennett, director at Elman Wall Bennett, on tax and VAT regulations in the scenarios of leaving with a deal, leaving without one and in the case the UK remains in the EU.

Nicole Hatton-Urey, Catriona Robertson Reilly and Benjamin Stringer from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy discussed what Brexit means for the movement of people and how non-UK citizens’ qualification, not obtained in the UK, can still be recognised and valued.

Nicole Hatton-Urey encouraged EU citizens to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme which is open until June 2021 in the event of the deal, but without a deal, the scheme will close on 31 December 2020.

Stringer spoke of the importance of ensuring qualifications that weren’t obtained in the UK, are recognised officially in the UK, especially if the profession falls under the 300 regulated professions in the UK. These can be found here.

Louisa Cole, senior associate at K&L Gates spoke in the first session after lunch and gave an insight into how Brexit is going to affect immigration with the possible adoption of an Australian-style points-based immigration system.

She explained that the implementation of this system would create a “harsher” immigration system and could lead to a shortage of workers in industries the “government might not perceive as experiencing a skills shortage.”

Cole urged employers of non-UK citizens who are currently working in the UK to consider their worker’s skills and how much they earn, otherwise, they could face life-changing challenges with regards to working and living in the UK if the government decides to introduce the Australian immigration system.

While plans for any Brexit result are ready to be actioned, the distinct lack of Brexit makes it difficult to confirm exactly how the tourism industry will be affected when the UK finally does leave the EU. Which is why each of the speakers concluded their presentations by informing the audience that all the information discussed at the ETOA Seminar could be found on the website.