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Brexit and British Holidaymakers

Posted on 3rd August 2016 at 4:31pm

What Now for British Tourists Post Brexit?

Brexit and British holidaymakers

On 23 June 2016, the British  people voted to leave the European Union and now the dust is beginning to settle – a bit. The final cutting of the EU cord will take years and, without any precedent, an exact timetable is not on the cards.

Since the referendum, the Leave campaign immediately rolled back on its pledge to pump hundreds of millions into the NHS. The Project Fear line used by the Remain politicians did not work and the emergency Budget promised by the Chancellor, George Osborne, did not materialise.

Now both George Osborne and David Cameron have left the Government to be replaced by Philip Hammond and the decisive Theresa May who is currently putting her distinctive stamp on a new Cabinet.

British Holidaymakers Post Brexit

So what does Brexit mean for British holidaymakers? Millions spend holidays in Europe – and a sizable number have second homes there. Others have permanent residences in Spain or elsewhere and until now the colour of their passports was not all that relevant.

Now everything is in a state of flux and is a lot on the table. There are implications for air travel, health care, travel documentation and currency.

I am old enough to  remember the bad old days of European travel, when there was a strict limit to how much foreign currency you could buy in a year.  Air fares were extremely expensive as British  European Airways, Sabena and the rest of the major airlines were allocated key routes and quite happy to fleece their customers in a market that was a complete carve-up.

The current set-up makes tourism in Europe a complete doddle by comparison. Budget airlines compete vigorously and fares are affordable.  The sick Brit can get the same level of healthcare in EU countries as the locals. Passport checks take only a few seconds and on mainland Europe are non-existent. ATMS in EU countries will accept British plastic. How much are all of these tourist-friendly protocols at risk?

The simple fact is that nobody knows. Years of painstaking negotiation are required for new agreements to be put in place. Britain does not currently have people who have the necessary skills to tease out the devilish details of trade regulation and hammer out a deal which will be acceptable to all parties.

The Future

Prior to the referendum some European bigwigs indicated that if Britain were to leave the EU it would not get a good deal from the remaining countries.  Hopefully this was bluster designed to dissuade other potential leavers from following the UK to the exit.

Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries are all advanced democracies and one would hope that reason would prevail.  Germany will want to continue to send their BMWs and Mercs over to the UK and I cannot see why Spain would want to stand in the way of some pale Brits wanting their traditional fortnight of sun and sangria on a Costa.

The main effect of Brexit so far has been a substantial fall in the value of the pound against major currencies. The sangria is costing more than before – hopefully the other effects of the referendum vote will not be as negative as some pundits predicted.

Key Findings of Association of British Travel Agents Report on Effects of Brexit published in March 2016

1. There are strong travel and tourism flows between the UK and EU. The EU is the main destination for UK tourists, and the main source market for overseas tourists coming to the UK. Tourism and travel trade between the UK and EU has been facilitated by the free movement of goods and services, investment and people across the EU. Brexit could jeopardise this free movement, and affect the flow of trade and travel.

2. Leaving the EU means is a high likelihood of uncertainty during the negotiation period immediately following the referendum. This could last until a replacement set of trading relations and regulations were in place, which could take several years.

3. The sterling effect: The extent to which operating from outside the EU would increase costs for the travel industry would depend largely on the agreements the industry would adopt and the ease at which it could transition to the new arrangements.

4. It is likely that EU-originating regulations that benefit and protect traveling consumers would need to be replaced with parallel UK-originated regulations to ensure that consumer confidence is maintained.

5. The travel and tourism sectors employ a significant number of immigrants. Any changes limiting the sector’s ability to recruit or employ foreign nationals, including those from the EU, could challenge many travel and hospitality businesses in filling a number of roles , especially given the current levels of UK employment and existing skills shortages.

6. The UK traveling consumer could be faced with increased costs if an exit vote led to a sustained deterioration in the value of sterling, making foreign currency destinations more expensive in sterling. Consumers would also need to cover any additional health insurance costs, should the UK exit the European Health Insurance.
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