THE LOTUS WEEKLY BREXIT ROUND-UP
Consumer sentiment as assessed by the travel sector
In the past week, several travel companies have released trading statements which blames continued Brexit uncertainty for negatively impacting consumer confidence despite reports in an uplift in passenger numbers and positive financial results for the past year.
Two travel trade associations also published consumer research suggesting travellers would be unaffected by Brexit.
As published in Travel Weekly Irish Ferries reported a 7.1% rise in total ferry revenues to €184.3 million in the year to October 31 and car carryings up by 1.6% year-on-year. But the company said: “There is continuing uncertainty over the timing and manner of the proposed exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
“During the [reporting] period the group experienced some volatility in carryings as key Brexit dates were approached and subsequently postponed.
“The overall effect of this continuing uncertainty is generating negative impact on consumer sentiment and trade flows as investment decisions are delayed.”
Gatwick saw a marginal rise in summer half-year profits and passenger numbers. Overall passenger numbers rose by 56,803 in the six months to September 30 to reach 26.6 million while air transport movements declined by 335 to 156,500 due to the use of larger aircraft.
Gatwick said it continues to adapt its preparation plans in light of Brexit developments and is monitoring the effects on the UK economy.
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Over the last six months, the forward outlook of UK GDP has further declined, with expectations for 2019 and 2020 now around 1.3% and 1% respectively year-on-year growth.
“The combination of this economic climate and the uncertainty around the Brexit transition has resulted in some softening in UK outbound passenger demand.”
On the Beach profits cut by 26% due to Thomas Cook failure
As reported by TTG, On the Beach took a 26% group profit hit in the fallout following the Thomas Cook collapse. However, adjusted group revenue for the year to September 30 increased by 41% and adjusted group profit before tax rose by 3% to £34.6 million.
On the Beach chief executive Simon Cooper said: “In what has been a difficult general economic climate with the prolonged uncertainty regarding Brexit and the related currency impacts, I am pleased with the group’s performance with significant progress made against our strategic objectives while delivering a 3% increase in group adjusted profit before tax, in line with market expectations.”
Brexit not putting customers off booking says AITO
Brexit uncertainty is not putting customers off booking holidays, according to The Specialist Travel Association (Aito).
Its annual online Insights survey of 26,400 responses from members’ customers found that 66% said Brexit had not influenced the holidays they planned to take in the next 12 months, while 22% said political uncertainty was impacting their choices and 12% were not sure. 79% said Brexit had not influenced their holiday plans so far this year.
Abta 2020 trends report
ABTA released the top travel trends for 2020.
The overall environmental impact of taking a holiday, adopting digital customer service methods and personalised touring were highlighted by Abta as key trends along with the rise of ‘slow travel’ and electric aviation. Package holidays will remain appealing to consumers.
The report also found that despite Brexit uncertainty, 27% of people are planning to spend more on their holiday this year - up from 25% last year.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “With so many political uncertainties ahead, such as the shape of the new government and the outcome of the Brexit process, it is difficult to predict with certainty what 2020 will bring – however, we do know that travel is still a spending priority for the year ahead.”
Conservatives: We will improve border security after BrexitThe BBC is reporting that the Conservatives are publishing plans to improve the UK's border security after Brexit.
If the party wins the general election, it says it will introduce automated exit and entrance checks. It would also make it harder for people with serious criminal convictions to enter the UK from EU countries. They say they will also bring an Australian-style points based system and an American-style visa waiver scheme, called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which travellers would have to obtain before reaching the UK border.
Labour says the UK would no longer have access to EU databases or the European Arrest Warrant, undermining the fight against terror and organised crime.
The Times has predicted that if the election was to have happened last week, the Conservatives would win a majority of 68 seats. Their B rexit analysis doesn’t believe that Johnson would use the majority to crash out of the EU without a deal, but instead, he would use it to move more to the centre. Reports from Brussels think that in order to get a trade deal over the line by the end of next year, Johnson would sign up to a very high degree of alignment with the European Union as he knows that his majority would be thanks to many working-class voters – and they are likely to be hardest hit in the short term by a hard Brexit.
However, The Times continues: “If the Conservatives lose the election, or there is a hung parliament, a fourth extension of EU membership and another Brexit vote seems inevitable.”
Their report from Europe also suggests that a summit in two weeks in Brussels will vote to make the European Union "more united and sovereign" by 2022 – ie which would mean that each member state would give up more of their own sovereignty.