Safeguarding Youth Mobility Post Brexit

What is important about youth & educational travel

Educational travel or travel with a purpose can be life changing, it helps young people to become more flexible, it gives them a greater global perspective, making them more tolerant and able to adapt to change.

Youth, student and educational travel plays a major role in the global travel and tourism industry, they are the travelers of the future and are able to deliver long term benefits to destinations that successfully capture this growing market.

Young travellers stay in a destination longer than an average traveller and they spend more money within local businesses, which increases the economic impact.

  • In 2016, 14.9 million young travellers visited the UK
  • this is 38% of all international arrivals
  • and whilst here, they contributed £22.3 billion to the UK economy – this is more than twice the value of Twitter

Read our latest study Unlocking the Value of Youth Travel here

Engagement & Investment

BETA continues to invest in and share industry data, insights and messaging into government to help them to understand the importance of youth mobility to and from the UK.

In 2017 BETA published a study on the volume and value of the sector which showed that it is no longer growing as it once did and it was reported that 1 in 5 of those initially wanting to come to the UK opted for other destinations. (USA, Canada, Ireland)

For destinations that have been able to attract a youth audience en mass this represents a lucrative revenue stream. For instance, young people account for 25% of all arrivals to Australia and 44% of all spend by international visitors.

The Australian Government recognise the value of this type of traveler and create the policies to allow industry to actively target them.

Getting heard in the corridors of power

Last week BETA was invited to give evidence at a Lords Select Committee Meeting which focused on Brexit and the future trade between the UK and EU to share the views of our members in a post Brexit Britain. You can view recording on Parliament Live here

So, Government are aware of our sector and what it contributes, but clear support from here is a barrier to growth for the sector.  We have to keep pushing the message as other destinations are growing in popularity and this is chiefly down to friendlier visa policies and increased in country presence and promotion.

Our competitor destinations have equipped themselves with an attractive value proposition, secured government support to develop youth travel-friendly policies and prepped up their marketing efforts to lure more young visitors.

The UK is firmly on most young people’s travel wish-list and our recent consumer study showed that 70% of young travellers having recently visited the UK planned to return within the next 5 years. (pre-Brexit survey…)

It also highlighted that half of all young travellers welcome 2-4 visitors during their stay in a destination.

Youth, student and educational travel is able to deliver long-term benefits to the UK and we must ensure that Government recognise and support this sector.

It is agreed that the GREAT Campaign is an excellent vehicle to promote the UK overseas, but our tourism board does not have a specific youth campaign sector or department, this then spreads through our DMO’s who are also doing little to attract this style of traveller and therefore we are not getting the overseas coverage or media that we need to increase demand.

Post referendum business

For BETA members, it has had a very mixed result, with the majority reporting no change to date. That said if you ask them what their top concerns are for the industry going forward they would be:

  • Uncertainty around Brexit (mobility, employment etc.)
  • Visa policies
  • Currency fluctuations
  • Security/terrorism

The future UK-EU relationship & recommendations

Government officials are looking at all types of legislation with a view to what should stay and what should go in a post Brexit Britain.

With over 30 pieces of legislation needing to be considered all stakeholders are calling for clear and timely process to enable businesses to react accordingly.

The whole panel during the Select Committee Meeting strongly expressed that the current Tier System is not fit for purpose and highlighted their concerns on what the new Government policy on immigration would be.

One recommendation put forward by BETA was to look at the extension or roll out of the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme to EU citizens under reciprocal arrangements allowing them to work for 2 years which would also go to support the gap that is forecast in the employment side of the hospitality and tourism industry.

Plus of course our long-standing wish for international students to be removed from the net migration figures. We must continue to welcome them and recognise them for what they are, temporary visitors.

Other suggestions included looking at the air connectivity funds to encourage new routes in and out of the UK. Amendments to the Package Travel Directive, removal of tourist taxes, free trade agreements and there are many more discussions that will continue to take place.

BETA welcomes the input of our community in ensuring that we continue to present the case and engage with these decision makers as we navigate our way through the process to safeguard the interests of our sector.

Join us at Parliament in 2018

BETA will as always be hosting our Annual Parliamentary Reception on 28th June 2018. This event enables us to raise the profile of the sector within the corridors of power. It also delivers high-level networking for our members by encouraging them to engage with their local MP’s and influencers within their communities to ensure a greater understanding of the threats and opportunities around the youth, student and educational travel sector.

If you are keen to get your voice heard or grow your network find out more how you can join us in this and our many other activities here