The EU and UK have agreed the details of a Brexit transition period, which is with the EU Council of Ministers today for approval. Assuming this is signed into law, the current trading and travel arrangements will continue until the end of December 2020. This is helpful in terms of giving businesses and consumers time to adapt, and settling any anxieties about short-term changes.
We do need to be aware that while the political commitment for a transition period is there, the legal framework isn’t, and that won’t come until later this year, once big issues like the Irish border are resolved. So businesses will need to assess this risk as part of their business planning.
And we still don’t know what we’re transitioning to, so a lot needs to be done between now and 2020 to sort out important issues for the travel industry including aviation access, posted workers and consumer rights.
These were among the issues discussed at ABTA’s Brexit briefing event earlier this week, held at ABTA Partner K&L Gates' offices in London, which brought together 150 business leaders from across the travel industry to look ahead to how, as an industry, we can prepare for when the UK does leave the EU.
During the discussion I was really pleased to hear comments from the Spanish and Maltese tourist boards. They share our will to secure a Brexit deal which supports travel to their destinations, and I know the sentiment is also shared across other European destinations too following ABTA’s lobbying efforts abroad. Vicky Ford MP, recognised the work ABTA has been doing and the value it brings to the debate, and aviation consultant Eddie Redfern said EU countries are starting to look at what they each will need from the Brexit deal.
I think it is fair to say that the tone during the event was of cautious optimism. As Stuart Leven from RCL cruises put it - with 53 million trips from the UK to Europe each year, there is a deal to be done. But everyone was also very realistic that the Brexit road is a long one, and we have much further to go. ABTA is taking every opportunity to represent the industry during this process, we now need the Government to be more transparent about the deal they are hoping to strike - and to use the expertise from the industry to work through some of the scenarios and practical implications.
One thing we all agreed on was that consumer confidence in travel is currently strong – the industry continues to grow and demand for holidays abroad remains high - and it’s important that we continue to reinforce this through our communications to the public.
On a different note, I’m really pleased that ABTA has been confirmed as a Business Superbrand for the 12th year running, and a Consumer Superbrand for the second year in a row. This recognises how the ABTA brand resonates across the industry and is trusted by consumers who look for the logo when booking a holiday - an important factor in supporting consumer confidence.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive