Mark Tanzer is the CEO of ABTA, The Travel Association, the UK’s biggest association in the tourism industry. He gives euronews reporter Valérie Gauriat his assessment of the impact of Brexit so far on incoming and outgoing tourism, and talks about the industry’s main concerns, over air transports, and access to workforce in the tourism industry.
We need to keep the ability to continue to fly in and out of the UK to all the destinations that we currently do.
“London continues to be a very important attractive destination for tourists. That I’m sure will continue.
The real impacts we’ve felt with Brexit so far have been more in the other direction with the british tourists going overseas. As was predicted in the run on to the referendum, any prolonged uncertainty would put pressure on the value of the pound. And that’s what has happened.
Holidays are more expensive than 12 months ago
So the cost of holidays for British tourists have gone up as of course we’re having to pay in pounds which are worth less, and also the industry itself. A lot of the costs of the industry are costed through in dollars or euros. So obviously hotels but also aviation fuel, is priced in dollars. So as long as the uncertainty continues the more that puts pressure on the value of the currency, and that’s going to put up the pressure on costs.which is what we’ve seen.
Holidays this year are more expensive than they were 12 months ago, but having said that, the demand is still strong, there’s out 5 percent than last year. So people still value their holiday very highly when it comes to deciding how they are going to spend their money.
And there’s no doubt that other cost pressures we’ve seen in the United Kingdom. inflation went up 2,5 percent last week, that was the latest figures. And that’s all sort of costs, shopping, not just travel, have got the impact of the weaker pound So I think how we go forward, it’s important to get some certainty as quickly as possible.
We wouldn’t want to have to negociate with 27 different countries, 27 different aviation agreements
The biggest structural question around Brexit is really to do with aviation. The ability to continue to fly in and out of the UK to all the destinations that we currently do.The open skies agreement in Europe has opened up travel to a vast number of people who wouldn’t previously have been able to afford to go. And also to a variety of destinations that wouldn’t have been feasible either.That’s been good for the economies in Europe and it’s been good for the british tourists. And we’re very keen that through the negociations with Brexit we maintain that aviation structure. Aviation doesn’t fall under any kind of world, WTO rules, so we need to have an agreement.
What we wouldn’t want is the situation where we have to negociate with 27 different countries, 27 different aviation agreements. Historically, aviation has been quite protected by national governments. If you think back to when I was a young man, countries had it very good to protect their national airlines and protect access to their airports. We don’t want to get back to those days. As I said the open skies, open market for aviation has been a good thing for the industry and for the customers. And we want to maintain that and not to go back to individual countries trying to go back to their national airlines
We need a flexible working system that can bring people in and allow us to put our people overseas where they are needed
The other important thing that supports the free movement of airplanes is of course the people who work to support them. Not just air crew, but also the tourist industry we have tour representatives, we have people who work overseas to support British tourism industry, and of course there’s a huge number of EU citizens who work in London.
Freedom of movement of workers is one of the big issues at stake here. But for our industry it’s absolutely critical. That we have not just the ability to do that but we can do it without lots of paperwork, lots of delays. Because tourism is quite a peak industry, as seasonality.
Certain times of the year you want to be able to access workers very quickly and then you know they may not be needed for the rest of the year so we need a flexible working system that can bring people in and allow us to put our people overseas where they are needed. So I think it’s the structural question of aviation but also the bodies on the ground that’s very important for our industry.”