After UK Vote to Leave EU, Travel Industry to Wait and See

europe map
Photo by Varga

As the fallout from last week’s vote by the UK to leave the European Union continued over the weekend, the travel industry has begun to take stock of what’s next for travel to Britain and Europe in the wake of the decision. 

“The most immediate effect is the currency fluctuation,” Mike Stitt, Travelzoo president, North America, tells Travel Agent. “American travelers will experience some benefits in terms of the stronger dollar in the short term, and we’re advising travelers that if they have a visit already planned, it might be advisable to get some cash out now while the exchange rate is a little bit lower.”

According to Reuters, the pound continued to decline in value when the markets opened for trading Monday morning, sinking to its lowest level against the dollar in 31 years. Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to start formal moves immediately to act on the vote, prompting other European leaders to demand quicker action. Cameron had announced plans to step down in October following the outcome of the referendum. 


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France like Germany says Britain has voted for Brexit,” Michel Sapin, France’s finance minister, told Reuters. “It should be implemented quickly. We cannot remain in an uncertain and indefinite situation.” 

Travelers could also see some hotel sales and discounts in the UK as hotels look to fill rooms in spite of traveler uncertainty, Stitt says. European cruise lines, too, could see a similar effect, since London is a popular point of entry for many Americans heading into Europe. 

“Anytime you see a little bit of uncertainty, it has these ripple effects,” Stitt says. 

Tour Operators Weigh In

Longer-term, tour operators Travel Agent spoke with say the impact of the vote is less clear. 

“Right now it’s business as usual, until we see how things shake out in the currency and financial world,” says Harry Dalgaard, president at Avanti Destinations. “Hopefully, all we have is some short-term uncertainty but in the long term no real impact on our UK business.”

“The result of the referendum means that we are in completely uncharted waters,” says Paula Twidale, executive vice president of Collette. “No one has ever left the EU and we now face continued uncertainty.”

At the same time, Twidale says that travel to Europe in general remains strong, and that the company does not anticipate any changes to its travel plans or product offerings. 

TTC USA President Richard Launder says that his company expects all travelers to be as unhindered to move between the UK and the EU as they were before the vote. 

“Tourism is an incredibly important industry to the UK and will always be encouraged, so besides currency, we expect the impact on tourism and travel to be diminutive,” says Launder.

Air Travel

In terms of air travel, it remains an open question as to how the decision will impact the EU’s Open Skies agreement, according to an analysis in the CAPA Centre for Aviation. The UK could negotiate single market access in a manner similar to Norway through the ECAA, despite not being an EU member. While this approach would maintain the status quo as far as consumers are concerned, it would leave the UK subject to EU regulations while having no say in how those regulations are formulated. 

Have you been fielding client questions about the Brexit vote? Let us know in the comments below.