14th February 2018
Love it or hate it, Brexit is becoming reality for the UK and many people want to know how it is going to affect day-to-day life as well as travel within the EU and beyond. With uncertainty hovering around where people stand on holiday home purchases, immigration and even the normal cost of family holidays, the ease of travel is one of the UK’s biggest concerns when it comes to its impending independence.
One of the first consequences of the vote to leave Europe on June 23rd 2016 was the crash of the pound, which dived to a 31-year low at a 13% loss against the Euro compared to before the vote. This has already impacted the cost of travel with holidaymakers getting less bang for their buck when purchasing foreign currency and booking accommodation abroad.
Families can now easily end up paying £300 extra for a standard two-week package holiday to mainland Europe, plus around £150 extra on spending money. With 76% of holidays abroad being taken in Europe, this change looks like it will affect thousands of families across Britain.
However, the British stiff upper lip seems to be coming out on top: Friedrich Johnson, head of Tui which owns First Choice and Thomas Cook, says he doubts there will be any decline in holiday bookings. UK winter bookings last to long-haul destinations increased by 20% compared to 2016; “this shows the resilience in demand,” says Tui. Those taking European breaks in 2018 can at least still use the ‘EU Nationals’ queue at airport passport control.
After Brexit has been finalised in 2019, UK citizens will face a longer wait at airports as they join the queue for non-EU citizens. There is also a small chance of the Schengen agreement (which does not requires border controls for its member states) being dissolved, which would mean hold-ups when crossing countries by land. With holiday cash being eaten up by the change in exchange rate, families’ valuable time looks to be the next victim of Brexit.
It’s not great news for airlines either – some possible implications of Brexit include passengers losing guaranteed compensation for cancelled flights in certain circumstances, as well as potential increases in flight fares as airlines face expensive bills from negotiating barriers with the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA).
Without special arrangements airlines will lose their automatic right to fly in and out of countries within the ECAA. With London airports already stretched to capacity, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that the UK has to offer in terms of access for other countries’ air transport so how the negotiations will go is yet to be seen.
It’s not all bad news, though. Apart from the changes in currency values, Brexit shouldn’t have too much of an impact for European travel in 2018. Directly after Brexit some airline fees dropped as much as 54% so UK citizens can still move cheaply and freely in, out and within the EU and some think that there is no better time than now to explore while we still have this access. The end of March 2019 is the estimated date to reach agreements, but with 759 treaties to re-negotiate with 168 countries, it is likely that the full impact of Brexit won’t be felt for months, if not years, after this date.
There are also Brexit-induced benefits for the UK and its people when it comes to travel within Britain and Northern Ireland. “Brexit has boosted the staycation, with booking growth for domestic holidays rising from 34% to 46%,” says Dan Yates, founder of online campsite and holiday parking website Pitchup. “Our sector is certainly benefiting from Brexit – more than other sectors of the tourism industry – as we appeal to savvy, budget-conscious travellers who are always looking for ways to make their holiday spend go further.”
The increase in demand for camping and glamping holidays means that campsite owners are making it easier and more accessible for families with children of all ages to enjoy a British holiday. Additions to the usual campsite experience in the past year have included direct-to-tent pizza delivery service; rent-a-coop farm experiences and increasingly extravagant accommodation such as Hobbit pods and even converted helicopters.
This trend is sure to help campsite owners – for whom business is seasonal and notoriously poorly paid – such as the likes of Tim and Eva Johnson, owners of Sussex-based Blackberry Woods who have extended their opening season from eight months per year to year-round. This means they are able to hire regular staff and benefit from a more predictable income and routine, leading to a higher quality of service for guests. One can hope that the increase in international tourists to the UK, thanks to the more affordable pound, will have this effect on all areas of the UK hospitality and leisure industry.
It is yet to be seen how Brexit will impact the people of the UK in the long term; it is a process that entails far more complexity than any that can be accurately predicted. For 2018, however, it looks like now is as good a time as any to explore both the UK and wider Europe and enjoy the huge variety of food, cultures and nature that they have to offer.