Abta chief sends message to prime ministerial candidates

Abta’s chief executive has written to both Tory leadership candidates urging whoever becomes the next prime minister to ensure transport links, visa-free travel and temporary workers’ rights on the continent post-Brexit

Mark Tanzer says it is important for the next prime minister to provide resolutions for businesses and to give consumers confidence to book holidays – and urged members to plough on with contingency planning in case the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are contesting the leadership, and 160,000 Conservative Party members will decide who becomes the next prime minister by next week.

In a letter to Abta members, Tanzer said: “Summer is looming, but a big week lies ahead. Before Parliament enters recess next Thursday, we will have a new prime minister and, inevitably, once they take office, the focus of media and political attention will once again turn back to Brexit – and the deadline of October 31 for the UK’s departure from the EU.

“Abta has already written to both candidates, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, to highlight the industry’s economic importance and role as a key employer across the UK, to raise the industry’s policy priorities in relation to Brexit, and to stress the importance of a managed departure from the EU for the UK travel and tourism industry. Similar letters have also been sent to our contacts in key EU destinations to urge a receptive, and pragmatic, approach from both sides.

“Abta’s letters particularly raise the importance of ensuring existing contingency arrangements are extended as a priority, continued transport links, visa-free travel, and the ability for travel companies to post critical support staff in temporary roles throughout the EU. These are long-established positions, which each prime ministerial candidate will be familiar with from their respective times as Foreign Secretary, and which are also well-known to our European partners, but it is important to keep these issues fresh in minds ahead of the summer break.

“We know some of these points may be politically contentious, and some might be tempted to score political points, but it is clearly in the interest of everyone to seek resolutions that provide businesses with solutions that support them to be successful and provide consumers with the reassurances they need to book with confidence.

“With both candidates to be prime minister making determined noises about departing the EU by 31 October, whether a deal can be agreed or not, it is important that members continue with contingency planning. Abta will be engaging proactively with new ministers as these are appointed in the next ten days or so, and we will also be regularly updating our contingency paper, available on the website, and keeping members informed of any developments.

“Whatever happens over the next few months, we’ll make sure you’re kept informed.”

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