A lobby group representing tour operators that employ UK staff to work in EU resorts and destinations has warned of dire consequences if the UK does not secure a Brexit deal.

The Seasonal Businesses in Travel lobby group that was established in August 2017 with nine members and now has 200, has produced a report estimating the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Called ‘A Crisis Looming’, a survey of travel firms found there has already been a 7% reduction in the number of UK workers posted overseas, and respondents estimated there will be a 31% increase holiday prices post Brexit compared to pre-referendum levels.

Zenith Holidays director Katie Waddington, a founder of SBIT, told the Elman Wall Directors Summit, that some types of holiday, like chalet skiing, could become unaffordable except for the very wealthy.

“Operators will have to become a bit more creative with what they offer,” she said. “Brexit could affect any companies with overseas staff. Our aim is to raise awareness of the issues.”

Waddington said the group “had made some progress” in highlighting its concerns with MPs, particularly among high profile remainers like Labour’s Chuka Umunna, but that more needed to be done as the UK negotiates it’s withdrawal from the EU head of next March’s deadline.

Waddington added that Brexit means Zenith is not looking to grow next year but will look for other areas of the business outside of its core chalet business to focus on.

“We will have to put costs up. We will have to put people on French contracts and we do not know if we will be able to continue employing Brits,” she said.

SBIT estimates that there are currently 25,000 UK jobs in the EU reliant on the Posted Seasonal Workers scheme and holiday operating costs could go up by 58% if there is a hard Brexit.

It says the firms surveyed reported operating costs were already 10% higher in 2016/17 and they were seeing a further increase of 13% this summer and winter due to “regulatory and operational costs largely to do with the loss of negotiating power and delays in operational planning due to uncertainty regarding staff secondment beginning to make their mark”.

The report states 75% of the 53 million outbound leisure and business trips from the UK are to the EU with the sector contributing £2.4 billion to the UK economy and employment exceeding that in manufacturing sectors like food and electrical equipment.

The report claims: “A cliff edge or no-deal departure from the EU will have disastrous consequences for the outbound travel industry. A poorly negotiated Brexit that fails to take into account the importance of the seamless transition of staff, resources and finances for the outbound travel industry will certainly mean a loss of jobs, of competitiveness of UK travel companies and an increase in holiday prices for the travelling public.

“More specifically, if the next stage of negotiations fails to take account of it, there will be changes to secondment rules which will substantially increase the cost to British travel companies of employing UK nationals in Europe, possibly rendering it effectively unworkable.”

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