A PIER boss fears a planned immigration crackdown could lead to recruitment trouble for the tourism industry.

Brighton Palace Pier chief executive Anne Ackord said the Government’s planned points-based immigration system will deprive businesses of seasonal workers.

The scheme, set to be introduced next January, assigns points for specific skills, jobs, and salaries, with only those with 70 points or above gaining permission to work.

But Ms Ackord said she would not be able to fill the pier’s workforce without migrant workers.

“Eighty five per cent of our current applicants are European, despite all our recruitment being local,” she said.

“We do not advertise abroad but the candidates have always been this demographic in my 16 years on the pier.

“If we employed every candidate who applied through long-term unemployment schemes and job centre adverts we would still be 50 per cent short of peak season team members.

“The pool is just not big enough.”

Ms Ackord said the Brighton Pier Group would recruit more than 300 workers between Easter and August.

But though she recruits British citizens, she believes the Government is perpetuating a stigma around tourism.

“We are in the position of trying to attract team members to an industry which the Government itself deems ‘unskilled’,” Ms Ackord said.

“To say that those who work in this sector are unskilled is insulting and untrue.

“Before we could even contemplate managing without a European workforce we need to look at how we prepare youngsters for work while ensuring tourism and leisure are presented to our future workers in a positive light.

“They are shutting the door before we are prepared. There is a better way of handling this switch.”

But Home Secretary Priti Patel claimed the new points-based system would boost business.

“We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential,” she said.

A Home Office spokesman said: “In line with the Government’s manifesto commitment there will be no specific route for low-skilled workers.

“It is estimated 70 per cent of the existing EU workforce would not meet the requirements of the skilled worker route, which will help to bring overall numbers down in future.

“In addition, the seasonal workers’ pilot will also be expanded in time for the 2020 harvest from 2,500 to 10,000 places responding to the agricultural sector.”