Brexit and tourism

So that’s that then, the UK is at the departure door, flicking through its passport, checking luggage and stuffing the travel toothpaste into a clear bag. But what happens next?

Tourism is a good place to start given this is where British citizens felt the first impacts of Brexit on Friday morning as holidaymakers – this writer included – saw their purchasing power diminish by the minute as Sterling took hit after hit against the Euro. This was just the start, as the economic implications of the result started to unleash on British citizens. Next up were holidaymakers whose pre-booked package holidays could now be more expensive than they planned because travel companies are allowed to ask customers to pay extra to cover the exchange rate difference (up to a maximum of about 10% as long as the company absorbs the first 2%).

So these two things have immediately happened, with the markets punishing UK voters for their choice. However, what of the medium to long-term?

Once Brexit has occurred, unless a deal is reached in the negotiations, there will likely be an increase in holiday insurance costs because the European Health Card may no longer work. Helicopter ambulances when you break your leg on the slopes don’t come cheap. And when you have to call the emergency services in your prone position, that call will not benefit from the lower roaming mobile charges about to be implemented across the EU. Then as you sit in the departure lounge with your leg in plaster, you don’t have the right to seek compensation if your flight is delayed (3 hours+) or cancelled. To relieve the anguish you decide to have a drink, but where are the attendants? Unfortunately due to the loss of cross-border freedom of movement, there are now fewer applicants available to work for the airlines, and this lower supply forces higher wages, so staff costs are cut wherever possible meaning you have to hobble to the self-service drinks cupboard.

Understandably this is an extreme example, but illustrative of the significant implications on the tourism industry from holidaymakers, to travel companies and air carriers, all of which will slowly bleed into reality as the negotiations on Brexit take place. These negotiations will take years with thousands of articles of legislation to unpick and right of access to the free market being a key ‘win’ for whoever next resides in Number 10.

What next then? Tourists, operators and airlines need clarity on what last Thursday’s vote has kick-started. These wide-ranging changes will immeasurably impact your holiday and your company’s bottom line, and both need support from consumer organisations, trade associations and consultants to understand what is happening and make sure their voice is heard in these ground-breaking negotiations…phew…it’s enough to warrant a holiday to get over it!