How new Brexit passport rules are ruining school trips for children
The number of foreign student trips organised to the UK by specialist European tour operators this year is down 83% compared to pre-pandemic 2019, largely due to a post-Brexit passport rule change
Image: Getty Images/EyeEm)
Thousands of school trips are being scuppered because of a post- Brexit passport rule.
The UK is missing out on a huge amount of tourism cash following a big slump in student travel to the country after it left the EU.
The number of foreign student trips organised to the UK by specialist European tour operators this year is down 83% compared to pre-pandemic 2019, new research has found.
The 2019 figure of 1.2million European students travelling to the UK to learn English and about the country’s history has been cut in five, at a huge cost to tourist destinations and hotels.
Three years ago they were pumping about £1billion into the economy and supporting 17,000 jobs, the New Tourism Alliance has said.
Even if the sector recovers to 60% of the 2019 figure next year as is predicted, it will still be bringing £600million less into the economy – while significantly denting the UK’s soft power.
The reason why young people are no longer coming isn’t because they don’t want to, but due to new rules around travel documents.
The UK has removed the ‘List of Travellers’ scheme whereby EU students in organised school groups, accompanied by teachers, could travel to the UK using their national ID cards rather than passports.
There is now a requirement that all such students must have a full passport, which many will not apply for until they’re older and want to travel further afield.
Michael Quinn, who runs English schools in the UK and Ireland, has seen the impact of Brexit and the ID card ban first hand.
Where before the country left the bloc his schools in London, Leeds and Edinburgh would take as many students from the EU as the one in Dublin.
Now the Irish establishment is booked up, while demand for the English schools has dropped significantly.
“It is simply not worth their time to make sure everyone in a class has a passport,” Michael told The Mirror.
Richard Toomer, Tourism Alliance executive director, has urged the Government to reinstate the List of Travellers scheme for school students, arguing they are extremely low risk visitors.
“Student group travel was an important market for the UK economy,” he said. “There are many reasons that these groups would want to visit the UK for sporting events, cultural visits, events and many more.
“What has happened to the UK’s once-strong English language school industry, is a prime example of the damage done by this policy and as a result the country is losing almost £1.5bn in export revenue.
“The immediate financial loss is severe, but as important is the loss of soft power.
They were exactly the kind of first-time visitors that we need to attract; not only would they return throughout their lives, but their experience of regional UK would be amplified back home.”