Brexit Briefing 10 February 2020

Government clarifications to travel from 2021

Ian Taylor from Travel Weekly reported that the government has clarified:

  1. Anyone entering an EU member state on December 31 this year will remain entitled to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for the duration of their stay, but from 1 January 2021 it might not be valid”
  2. From 1 January 2021 you may need extra documents” for driving and “an international driving permit (IDP) to drive”; and the existing pet passport scheme will no longer apply.
  3. Those driving their own vehicle will also need a green card from their motor insurance company and a GB sticker on the car.
  4. Flights, ferries and cruises, the Eurostar and Eurotunnel [and] bus and coach services between the UK and EU will be able to run as before as of 1 January 2021.
  5. Airport security procedures will not change for direct flights to and from the UK [and] there should not be delays at airport security if you change flights in EU airports.”
  6. UK travellers may be required to use separate lanes at airports and be subject to questioning at border control – asked to show tickets and prove they have money for their stay in the EU. (In practice, this will depend on individual member states and airports. Some countries, such as Portugal, have already promised special lanes to speed up UK arrivals).
  7. UK travellers to the EU from next January will also be subject to several new requirements. They will need at least six months on a UK passport when they travel, and passports must be less than 10 years old – although these rules exclude Ireland.

Strengthened pound great for holidaymakers

Post Office Travel Money has reported that 80% of the top 40 holiday currencies have fallen in value against the pound compared with a year ago and all are weaker than last summer.

Sterling is 4% stronger against the euro than a year ago. Other destinations where the strength of sterling will benefit include Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Norway and Mauritius.

Although sterling is stronger than a year ago against the US dollar and currencies for some Caribbean islands as well as destinations in Asia such as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, the gains for UK tourists are marginal at less than 1%.

ABTA steps up lobbying on Brexit and issues updated travel advice

Following the UK’s official exit from the EU ABTA updated travel advice for consumers outlining the fact that no travel arrangements for leisure or business travellers will be impacted or changed during the transition period, whilst stating the aim to lobby the UK government on key travel industry priorities ahead of the start of trade talks “in order to shape the UK’s future relationship with the UK and protect the travel industry to ensure that the public can continue to holiday and travel with the same rights and freedoms as they have today.”

According to Travel Weekly, these priorities include a comprehensive air service agreement to protect flights, replacing the mobility benefits of the EU Posted Workers Directive, and retaining reciprocal healthcare.

The UK also needs to open discussions with third countries, including Switzerland, around access for occasional coach services.

ABTA also made clear that it remains actively engaged with the EU government and has outlined that tourism generates £146 billion in revenue within the UK and supports more than 3 million jobs across the country.

ABTA will hold an event on employment in London on 24 February 24: 2Brexit – The Immigration and Skills Challenge.’

End of Freedom of Movement will impact tourism industry in need of language skills

Joss Croft, UKinbound chief executive, addressed their convention in Bristol saying that the end of free movement of European workers to Britain is “the biggest issue” facing the tourism sector now the UK has departed the EU: “It’s not just about the labour, but also the language skills.”

“We’re in a very difficult environment with high employment, a limited pool in which to recruit, increasing numbers of EU workers returning home and really poor perceptions of tourism [as a career].

“Nationally, 10% of the staff in UK tourism and hospitality are EU nationals, but in some parts and some sectors it can be as high as 90% [and] 77% of tourism businesses are struggling to recruit [people with] the skills they need.”

Croft welcomed some of the recommendations of the UK Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published last week but said: “We’re pushing hard to get foreign languages recognised as a key skill.”

The MAC previously proposed a salary threshold of £30,000 for EU and other workers to enter Britain post-Brexit, but it reduced the recommended cap to £25,300 in its report last week.

However, Croft pointed out: “The average salary of full-time workers in this sector is £23,000 – 65% of businesses say they will struggle to operate with a salary cap, and higher in some areas.”

Positive peaks

Travel Weekly’s enquiries into the state of the market after the peak January period found that summer 2020 bookings to the end of January were up on a year ago when Brexit had a big impact on bookings.

UKInbound Convention in Bristol: Bookings from Germany are down

VisitEngland board member Fiona Pollard told the UKinbound convention in Bristol last week: convention: “Bookings from Germany are markedly down.”

VisitBritain began a campaign to reassure visitors to the UK that nothing will change in 2020 Director of strategy and communications Patricia Yates also told the convention: “We’ve seen real confusion about what will change when we come out of the EU.

“We want to reassure people they will be welcome when they come. [But] we can only give reassurance when we’re sure what the government is going to do. The messaging has been difficult.

“The government understands we need clarity as soon as possible so we can give certainty in these [source] markets.


If you have any queries or comments contact Frances Tuke; frances@wearelotus.co.uk