Following the triggering of Article 50, ABTA - the Travel Association, is setting out priorities for the Brexit negotiations in a new report “Making a Success of Brexit for Travel and Tourism”. The report outlines the priorities and opportunities for the travel industry and UK travellers that ABTA is asking the Government to focus on as formal negotiations begin.
The EU is an extremely important market for UK domestic and outbound travel and tourism businesses. In 2015, UK residents made 37 million holiday and business trips to the EU and EU residents made over 16 million holiday and business trips to the UK. It is essential that the travel industry can continue to prosper post-Brexit and that holidaymakers and business travellers can continue to travel freely and enjoy the important benefits currently open to them. In particular, ABTA is calling on the Government to focus on five central points during the negotiations:
- Maintain our ability to travel freely within Europe and beyond
- Keep visa-free travel between the UK and the EU
- Protect valuable consumer rights
- Give UK businesses operational stability
- Seize opportunities for growth
Additionally, with some holidays on sale up to 18 months in advance, ABTA is calling on the Government to ensure that effective transitional agreements with the EU are in place if needed.
The UK’s membership of the EU has given travellers many highly beneficial rights and protections, including visa-free travel and access to free or reduced cost healthcare via the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which was used over 215,000 times in 2015 by UK citizens. Compensation for delayed and cancelled flights and the EU Package Travel Directive, which protects people on package holidays, are also valuable consumer rights, which ABTA urges the Government to protect.
Safeguarding transport links, including air routes is vital, as the EU is the UK’s biggest market for overseas holidays and a critical market for businesses. Unlike for other industries there are no World Trade Organisation rules for aviation to fall back on if we do not reach a deal with the EU.
Maintaining these links will be mutually beneficial. For EU member states, UK holidaymakers and business travellers represent an important market, spending £19bn a year on business and holiday visits to the EU. Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece are the countries that receive the most UK visitors for business and holiday visits.
ABTA believes Brexit opens up possibilities for new partnerships and relationships and the opportunity to fine tune our laws and regulations in relation to travel, for example reducing Air Passenger Duty to ensure the UK has world-class connectivity.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive commented: “As the UK begins to extricate itself from the European Union, we want to work with the Government to help them make Brexit a success. We believe that the benefits that UK holidaymakers currently enjoy, such as visa-free travel and the EHIC card should be prioritised and protected. The Government must also make sure transition agreements are in place if needed. Travel and tourism is one of the UK’s largest industries and it is vital that the Government makes sure it can continue to thrive during and after the negotiations.”
The full report ‘Making a Success of Brexit for Travel and Tourism’ can be downloaded at: www.abta.com/Brexit