European School Educational Travel ORGANIZERS have warned that strict entry requirements after Brexit will likely halve the number of pupils visiting Britain.
School trips to France and Germany bring up to 750,000 students to the UK each year, but new restrictions mean organizers and schools are looking elsewhere.
Edward Hisbergues, the sales director of a leading French operator, PG Trips, told the Guardian they had “already seen a sharp drop in interest”.
Hisbergues said: “My business was 90% UK, 10% Ireland; now it’s all about Ireland. Schools ask for visits to the Netherlands or Malta.
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There are also concerns that Britain’s relations with EU countries could be further damaged as a result of the UK government’s decision not to exempt children on short educational trips from the new passport measures and visa.
The new measures are due to take effect on October 1, with the government saying the new measures are needed to strengthen Britain’s borders.
The German federation of leading school tour operators, which organize around 7,000 trips to the UK per year representing more than 1.5 million overnight stays, said the school trips “promote intercultural understanding and reduce prejudice”.
The federation added: “They forge lifelong bonds with the UK, increase tolerance for people, cultures and different ways of living and thinking, and helping to develop language skills in the most important language. at an international level.”
Post-Brexit travel restrictions mean that EU national ID cards will no longer be accepted for entry into the UK from October 1, which is likely to deter less well-off families due to the passport costs increasing the cost of one trip per child by up to 20%.
Ingo Dobbert, vice-president of the German federation, said that German children risk “being excluded from the valuable experience of their predecessors in traveling and living in the UK”.
Tour operators are particularly concerned that the UK is getting rid of the “travelers list” program which allowed non-EU students, usually from immigrant families, to travel in groups without needing a UK visa. .
Schools in EU countries like France, Spain and Germany often only allow travel if all students in the class can go. This means groups with even a non-European student will no longer consider Britain due to the cost and administrative hassle of getting a UK visa, organizers told The Guardian.
The visa costs £ 95 and is said to represent between five and 10% of German trips and up to half of French trips are said to be at risk.
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The increased restrictions could affect UK companies involved in organizing travel and cultural sites such as museums, theaters and other attractions they visit outside of busy holiday periods.
French organizers have said 10,000 French trips a year represent an annual injection of £ 100million into the UK economy, often to areas where foreign visits are vital to the local economy.
The German and French organizers have asked the UK government to allow an exception to the rules for those under 18 traveling on tour packages of less than two weeks to enter the UK with ID cards and the urged to maintain the “travelers list” for school groups.
The request was rejected by Future Borders and Immigration Minister Kevin Foster (above), who said the UK was “committed to strengthening the security of our border”.
He said the “travelers list” program would end on October 1, when most European Economic Area nationals will need a passport “like everyone else”.
Foster added that maintaining the “travelers list” program would run counter to plans for a “post where everyone gets individual permission before travel from the Home Office.”
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He said the new rules will be used to “remove from our border those who could pose a threat and facilitate the passage of legitimate travelers.”
Dobbert said his federation had “a strong impression” that the British government “has very little understanding of the problems we will have in giving children passports and arranging visas for non-German citizens.”
He added that the cost of travel to the UK would “explode” and would have a “considerable influence” on decisions to travel to the UK, forcing them to choose “other English-speaking destinations”.