In or out?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
empty deckchair

Will EU beaches see fewer British holidaymakers if we leave? © Dan Sperrin

Today is the day when Britons vote to stay in the EU or leave. Throughout the campaign, we have made little mention of the impact on travel and tourism since it has been hard to break through the insults and doom mongering to establish what the facts are, if there be any facts at all.

We criticised ABTA for tying its flag to the “remain” group believing they should be any independent. Other well-known figures in the tourism business such as Richard Branson have had their two-pennyworth (he is a “remain” supporter as is Willie Walsh from IAG, the holding company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling) so we thought, on this final campaign day, we would try to dispassionately look at both sides and what it might mean for us as holidaymakers.

If we vote to stay then the pound will rise and you will probably get more spending money than you will if you buy today.  Some foreign exchange companies have reported increased people buying euros and dollars this week ahead of the vote as people second-guess the result. If we stay in nthe pound will rise on Friday but the value of the pound will probably stabilise quite quickly and return to something like the levels it is now. Your holiday in Spain, Portugal, Italy and other EU countries will remain unaffected and life will remain as it is now.

The biggest issue is trying to forecast what will happen if we leave. Having never happened before, nobody knows what will happen and all is guesswork. The pound will probably decline in the short term at least until some sort of exit plan is agreed. ( this could be up to two years according to EU agreements) That will mean that your holiday spending money will buy less but the cost of your holiday won’t increase because all prices have been agreed. Any tour operator that tries to impose surcharges will have to justify them.

We imagine that during the negotiations to leave EU law will apply so EU261 which allows for compensation for delayed and cancelled flights will still apply. As this law is seen as benefiting consumers, we think that this is one of the laws that will be kept after any leaving as would be the package holiday rules which we waited so long for the EU to introduce and which UK ministers didn’t fight.

As for holidays in Europe, in the future prices will go up or down depending on how the pound fares. Given that out of the 65.7 million holiday visits abroad last year, 32.2 million were to EU countries so the importance of the British tourist is significant. EU countries couldn’t fill this gap elsewhere so probably there would be deals done which meant that prices would still be reasonable and accessible. What we would find is that passport control would be altered as we would now queue in the non-EU line. Would this be shorter or longer?

We would also face some border checks that currently don’t apply such as when passing from one EU country to another. Will we require visas for Spain, Portugal and other EU destinations or will we have visa easement as we have travelling to the USA?  We assume that passports will have to be recalled at some stage after the final departure from the EU so you would expect the government to make a charge ( if not maintaining the full cost of a passport renewal) to alter the wording.

Domestic holidays would be affected because one of the results of a decline in the value of the pound would be that fuel prices would rise making car travel more expensive for those day trips.

There will be other ramifications in staying or leaving so whatever happens, it would help stability in the long-term by the vote being as decisive as possible. If just 50% vote and one side wins by a small margin, the loser can always claim that the voters were put off voting by one reason or another. A 95% turnout with a small majority one way or the other would help quash any doubts but that is a pipe dream.

So the one thing that we at Just about Travel urge is that you get out and vote.

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