Tourism Alliance survey shows continuing barriers to school group travel with the UK lagging behind its EU competitors
22 June 2023

Tourism Alliance survey shows continuing barriers to school group travel with the UK lagging behind its EU competitors

In tandem with other Tourism Alliance members, English UK continues to lobby the UK government for a solution to the problems created by the end of ID Card travel and the List of Travellers scheme.

A vital part of our approach is to provide evidence about the barriers created by these policy changes, particularly for school groups travelling to the UK from EU countries.

The Tourism Alliance has now published the results of their latest survey of school group travel businesses, following two similar surveys in 2022. The latest survey clearly shows that the UK continues to lag behind competitor countries when it comes to the recovery of school group travel.

A big thank you to all our members and partner agents who completed the survey.

Key findings:

  • Between 2019 and 2022 the number of school children the business surveyed brought to the UK from the EU declined by 81%.
  • Over the same period the figure for school children going to other EU countries declined by only 53%, most probably as a result of the pandemic.
  • The subsequent recovery patterns are starkly different for the EU and UK.
  • The businesses surveyed expect school group travel to the EU to recover to 108% of 2019 figures in 2023.
  • By contrast, they expect school group travel to the UK to recover to only 61% of 2019 figures.

Operators surveyed laid the blame for this contrast squarely on the requirement for EU school groups to have passports and/or visas – 74% stated this was an 'extremely important' barrier to sending groups to the UK.

We are pleased to see that the government has committed to finding a resolution to this situation and urge them to prioritise the search for a workable solution in consultation with English UK and other stakeholders. Our current understanding is that any solution will start with travel for French school groups in the first instance, following the announcement at the recent Anglo-French joint declaration.

Huan Japes, English UK Membership Director commented: 'This survey provides further evidence of the adverse impact caused to EU school group travel by the government's ID Card policy. This makes no sense given the adverse economic impact - £400 million – and the non-existent risk of these students' absconding. We welcome the government's commitment to finding a solution for French school children and urge them to scale this up for all EU groups, involving tourism, travel and education experts in finding a workable solution.'

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