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Published on Friday, June 24, 2016

Travel industry calls for swift government action after Brexit vote

The travel industry is calling for swift action from the government to lessen the negative impact of Britain's vote to leave Europe.

As the pound plummets to its lowest level since 1985, industry leaders say it's vital the government acts quickly.

Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director of Travelzoo, said the next 24 months of negotiations will be crucial for British travel.

"Obviously top priority is dealing with the impact the referendum result will have on the value of the pound, but there are other factors that could make the result a big blow for the travel industry," he said.

"As such, we're now urging the government to act quickly to renegotiate how an independent UK operates in The European Common Aviation Area. UK airlines seem unanimous in the opinion that a Brexit will lead to reduced competition, reduced routes and higher travel prices.

"Other factors now also up for negotiation, that could lead to a price hike for British tourists include the loss of the EHIC card - which gives EU members the right to health treatment in any EU country, a potential increase in roaming charges following a recent EU initiative cap on charges, and, inevitable changes to visa regulations for Britons travelling to the EU.

"With so many variables in play it's difficult to predict the exact impact the Leave vote will have on the tourism industry, but research suggests it will be a negative one.

"In order to ensure UK travellers and the UK tourism industry do not suffer as we enter the busiest months for travel, the UK Government has got to enter negotiations with Brussels immediately over the EU policy which impacts travel."

ABTA said it has been in discussions with 'leave' campaigners in Westminster for some months and has prepared a  detailed list of policy and regulatory priorities that need to be discussed with leading policymakers in the coming weeks.

"It cannot be doubted that we are now moving into a period of uncertainty, although in regulatory terms we will not see any immediate changes," it said.

"ABTA will be working proactively with Government to raise awareness of the priorities for travel businesses, and UK travellers, as they negotiate a future trading relationship."

"It will also be important to ensure that the industry's domestic agenda is not neglected, and ABTA will continue to press for action on airport capacity, ATOL reform, which remains relevant whatever the future of the Package Travel Directive, and Air Passenger Duty."

UKinbound CEO Deirdre Wells said the decision to leave the EU will have far-reaching consequences for our members.

"However, we have proved time and again that we are a resilient industry and the Government must now work hard to secure a deal which supports our vibrant industry, which relies on the European Union for two-thirds of its business.

"The priority must now be to ensure that our members have the best possible environment in which to grow their business and to support them in welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe."

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  • The best opportunity for decades...

    ...for the travel industry. Even if the changes suggested do happen (which is unlikely since neither roaming charges nor open skies are EU initiatives). And as for the EHIC card - the only people that helps are visitors coming to Britain - Britons will cointinue to do what they have done for years and rely on travel insurance. But the uncertainty that many potential travellers will feel, is a golden opportunity for the retail trade to put their minds at rest. Contrary to what many seem to believe, we did manage to travel to Europe before the EU - I should know as I was a travel agent all through the 1960s.

    By Richard English, Friday, June 24, 2016

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