The UK hospitality industry is bracing itself for the impact in the rise in number of European migrants leaving the country after net migration figures for 2016 showed a year-on-year decline by 84,000 to 248,000.
In 2016, 117,000 EU citizens left the UK, an increase of 36%, up from 86,000 in 2015. The data includes the six months following the Brexit vote.
Work is the most common reason why people move between countries. In 2016 275,000 people moved to the UK for work, down by 33,000 from 2015.
Of the total 588,000 people that moved to the UK last year, 250,000 were made up of EU citizens, 264,000 were non-EU citizens and 74,000 were British citizens.
The rise in number of European migrants leaving the UK is creating great uncertainty in the hospitality industry, which is already facing a skills shortage. A report from KPMG, commissioned by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), concluded that an extra 60,000 EU workers are required annually to keep the hospitality sector growing in the UK.
Details of how UK immigration will look following Brexit are yet to be settled in the on-going negotiations for the country's departure from the EU in 2019.
Earlier this month, the BHA called on the government to reduce the number of immigrants from the EU over a 10-year period to allow time for the recruitment of UK workers.
According to the BHA, 700,000 EU migrants work within hospitality, which is the UK's fourth-largest industry, employing more than four a half million people in total.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said: "We recognise that immigration policy needs to change, but we need time to find and recruit UK workers. We have already sent the government our 10-year plan for this to happen and are keen to help the next administration to reposition our industry as a great place to work and use every opportunity to support the sector."
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