The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and Deloitte have studied what a vote to leave the European Union might mean for UK travel businesses, and the UK travel consumer.
The report says that 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. A Brexit could jeopardize this free movement, and affect the flow of trade and travel.
In the event that the UK votes to leave the EU, there 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.
In the event of a Brexit, the value of sterling could be impacted. 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.
In the event of a Brexit it is likely that EU-originating regulations that benefit and protect travelling consumers would need to be replaced with parallel UK-originated regulations to ensure that consumer confidence is maintained.
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.
The UK travelling 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 Card scheme.