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MP Drew Hendry says: The impact of Brexit is hitting our hospitality workforce as he argues in his column that for the first time since records began there are more job vacancies in the UK than unemployed people


By Drew Hendry


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Drew Hendry
Drew Hendry

The news we like to hear! Time Out magazine named Inverness one of the top 16 city breaks in Europe for 2022.

The travel magazine’s must-visit list sees Inverness featured alongside 15 other great European cities, including Milan, Valencia and Oslo.

It is a superb acknowledgement of everything on offer for visitors in the city and across the Highlands.

With the tourism season already in full swing, it has been great to see bustles of visitors taking in everything the city has to offer before they set off to discover our beautiful region. Wherever their journey north takes them, we know they will receive a warm Highland welcome.

It will be a real boost for hospitality and tourism staff to have so many visitors back with us.

BID coach ambassadors welcomed over 30 coaches in one day last week. With cruise liners already finding their way to our shores and bus parties making their way to tour the Highlands, even busier days are ahead.

After all, we are set to welcome even more visitors as the city boasts more rooms than ever, with new hotels making their mark.

Of course, I cannot talk about the tourism season without touching on the challenges operators face due to the UK government’s decision to end freedom of movement.

Before Brexit, our Highland tourism sector was enriched each year by the many European workers who chose these isles to start their new chapter or join us for a summer working break. Brexit means hoteliers and tourism operators no longer have access to these workers.

This makes staffing a busy summer season difficult. While tourism businesses here in the Highlands are incredibly resilient, the situation is untenable and needs to be dealt with.

The hospitality industry predicted these challenges. They warned UK ministers that ending freedom of movement would be catastrophic for the sector. They pleaded with the UK government to rethink.

Their calls were ignored then, and they are being ignored now. I have written to UK ministers this week to urge them to listen.

For the first time since records began, there are more job vacancies in the UK than unemployed people.

Here in the Highlands, the situation is even more challenging. My SNP colleagues and I have presented a migration plan to support our economy.

If UK ministers are not prepared to act, they should devolve powers to Holyrood so the Scottish Government can.

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