Immigration rhetoric 'making Britain look unwelcoming' states ALVA CEO

15 February 2016: Bernard Donoghue, chairman of the industry body Tourism Alliance, gave his warning as a survey was published showing that 82 per cent of UK tourism companies believed staying in the EU was important to their businesses.

Mr Donoghue told a tourism conference at Scotland's Aviemore resort that his personal opinion was that it would be "an absolute tragedy to leave the EU" and that a referendum vote in favour of a Brexit would lead to the country "consolidating its own image as a nation of little Englanders".
He said that the rhetoric of some politicians over people's fears over the level of net migration to the UK was damaging the industry and cited the number of high-profile figures who were born abroad but have enjoyed success in the UK, including Mayor of London Boris Johnson, TV presenter Loyd Grossman and chefs Antonio Carluccio and Michel Roux.

Mr Donoghue said his message to politicians was, "Stop the inflammatory rhetoric about immigration, because the message that sends out to the world is that we're not welcoming and we prefer closed doors.

"You can bet your life when politicians talk about 'we don't want economic migrants' or 'we don't want immigrants here', you know they don't mean Loyd Grossman or Antonio Carluccio or Michel Roux, or other people who have been born outside of the UK, like (London mayor) Boris Johnson. You know they don't mean those people. So let's call them on it."

Support in the industry for remaining in the EU was demonstrated in a survey of more than 300 tourism firms carried out by the trade association UKinbound.

More than four out of five said staying in the EU was important to future business prospects and Mark McVay, chairman of UKinbound, warned that Britain could be isolated after a Brexit.

"The prime minister recently asked the business community not to be shy about stating their views on EU membership. Well Mr Cameron, let the inbound industry be the first to say 'yes' to remaining in Europe," he told the Aviemore conference.

He said Britain's tourism industry "thrives on collaboration with our European neighbours" and insisted that it made financial sense to stay in the EU.

"We want to make it easier for people to travel to our beautiful country, not isolate ourselves from a market which collectively brought two-thirds of our business in 2015," Mr McVay added.

"While the EU is not perfect and could be improved, staying part of it makes sound economic and – from our perspective – commercial sense."

<< Back