Public supports under-18 travel on ID card
8 February 2022

Teenagers linking hands in heart shape

Public supports under-18 travel on ID card

A new poll commission by the British Educational Travel Association shows that people would support the right of children and teens to resume travelling to the UK on ID cards.

The poll shows around two thirds of respondents thought it was right for the UK to refuse to accept UK identity cards. But asked if they would approve of a government exemption on ID card travel which would allow this for under18s on a school trip, about 60% agreed.

The proposed Youth Group Travel Scheme for European under-18s

Reporting the poll and proposing the idea of a Youth Group Travel Scheme for European under-18s, also supported by English UK, BETA says: "The youth, student and educational travel market collectively contributes £28.6 billion to the UK economy with 14.6m youth and student travellers visiting or studying in the UK each year. Not only do these visitors support over 265,000 UK jobs in the education sector, they are also important for the UK's future economic growth as former students are more likely to undertake trade with, and invest in, the UK when they return home and enter business."

"Within this overall figure, around 550,000 students come to the UK for short periods of a few weeks to study English as a language and almost 1 million more as part of organised educational school trips to visit historical and cultural attractions. While these visitors comprise less than 4% of the total number of visitors to the UK, the £3.2bn that they spend in the country constitutes over 11% of the UK's total annual tourism earnings."

BETA says the scheme should allow educational groups of under-18s to travel to the UK for a period of up to six weeks to take part in group educational tours, school immersions, English Language Courses and organised cultural and educational visits aimed at youth and student groups. This, it says, could raise up to £1bn a year in additional revenue. 

Feature by Peter Foster, public policy editor for the Financial Times

Journalist Peter Foster wrote about this in the Financial Times on 3 February 2022, also pointing out that the UK's exit from the List of Travellers scheme has also had a impact on groups travelling to the UK.

"A move to ban EU national ID cards, even biometric ones, as acceptable for entry to the UK has hit the school trip industry hard, because children and non-EU citizens often relied on the cards for group travel. When the UK was a member of the bloc, the EU's "List of Travellers" scheme enabled non-EU children to travel with their group without a visa along side and EU children who only held ID cards. But the UK dropped out of that scheme when it left the EU. The point here is that when folk voted for Brexit, and for change, did they really vote to make it so much harder for French or Dutch or Italian children from coming to the UK on school trips, providing valuable cultural exchanges and £100mn in income to the tourism industry? The educational travel industry has conducted some research with Deltapoll that suggests not," he wrote.

Foster has also been active on Twitter, explaining the problems in more detail.

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