A UK tourism industry which is under pressure to slash travel and jobs amid the EU referendum could see a surge in numbers if the UK remains in the bloc, according to an industry source.
“The UK is going to go down as the tourism sector that lost out on the referendum,” said James Pannell, chief executive of the Tourism & Culture Organisation (T&C).
“I think the Brexit vote was a wake-up call to all of us.”
Pannell said the industry had seen a huge surge in interest in its tourism and the Brexit result has had a ripple effect.
“It’s very much a case of the tourism industry has become the target of people across the UK and overseas,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of people trying to get a foothold in the tourism market and this has resulted in a lot more people going out to the market.”
T&Cs boss James Pang said the decline in the number of British tourists coming to Europe had been a major driver for the industry.
“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot less tourism coming to the UK because of Brexit,” he told News Corp Australia.
“But the big issue is the impact on our local economy.
We’re going to see some tourism growth in Australia, New Zealand and South America but we’ve already lost a lot in the US and the UK.”
Australia is currently in a tourism boom, with an estimated 20 million visitors a year, while New Zealand has been one of the biggest markets for international visitors.
Tourism and hospitality are growing rapidly in Europe, with the industry expected to grow by about 8% a year over the next decade.
“You’ve got this massive demand from the world’s major tourism hubs, you’ve got a boom in China and there’s a lot going on in Asia,” Pannetell said.”[In Australia] we’re going through a really good period of growth and the growth of tourism is going very, very fast.”
Pang said while the tourism boom in Australia was being fuelled by “massive demand” from the US, Europe and Asia, the decline there was due to a different set of factors.
“For one, there are the economic pressures,” he added.
“So there’s lots of tourists coming in and lots of jobs being created.”
And there’s the fact that the economy is going through very tough times and we’ve got very difficult trade deals.
“The biggest economic shock for the tourism business in the last couple of years has been Brexit, so the economic shock is the biggest shock to the tourism trade in the world right now.”
Pell said that while the UK was losing business, it was also losing people.
“There’s been a huge number of people who have been unemployed for years now, they’re working in other countries and there are a lot who have got the skills but there are also a lot people who just want to come to the country and work, and are unemployed,” he continued.
“That’s a huge challenge for the economy, and it’s going too well for the sector.”
Panthers boss of Australia, Darren Croker, said it was vital for the UK to stay in the EU.
“When you talk about the economic impact of the UK leaving the EU, we’re the largest economy in the European Union and I think the Government needs to recognise that,” he suggested.
“A lot of the people who work in the UK, who are in the industry, they want to work in Australia.”
“So the fact of the matter is if you’re not in Europe you can’t have your voice heard in our business, in our tourism and it needs to be in the Government’s hands.”
If we leave, it’s really hard for the business and for the Government to take advantage of that.
“Croker said the Australian Government had no plans to leave the EU but it was likely to do so.”
Obviously we’ve been thinking a lot about how to protect the jobs that are in Australia,” he explained.”
They’re here, they are valued by Australia and if we lose the jobs, there’s no way for us to compete.
“Australia and the European single market has been an irritant for the British, with British Prime Minister David Cameron saying in September that leaving the bloc would make him “extremely angry” at the bloc.