As is usual for these times, the political landscape has moved on dramatically in two weeks since the last LOTUS Brexit briefing – which had a week’s break due to the nearly all-consuming World Travel Market!

In that time: The UK did not leave the EU on 31 October. Boris Johnson didn’t die in a ditch. ETOA held their Brexit preparedness seminar for the tourism sector and a general election was called for 12 December – the third in the UK in four years.


ETOA’s Brexit Seminar

ETOA’s preparedness seminar brought all elements of the travel industry together with government advisors from the Government Departments of: Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Transport and the UK Government Border Force.

A key takeaway message from the sessions was that given the contingency procedures now in place, the tourism sector should be largely unaffected by any Brexit outcome up until the end of 2020 – which as it stands, is the end of the transition period after the withdrawal process.

However, there are still concerns around recruitment shortages and question marks for transit visas and coach travel from the UK, through the EU to other third countries such as Andorra and Switzerland. And whilst the tourism industry looks as if it will be largely untouched by Brexit in 2020, the outlook after that is far from clear.

All speakers directed delegates to the Government’s Brexit website

WTM Future of Travel

At a session on the future of travel at WTM, industry leaders reported that the travel trade had so far enjoyed a “healthy” year despite the impact of Brexit uncertainty, hurricanes and the collapse of Thomas Cook. Sales for summer 2020 are looking positive. Globally, international tourism arrivals are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2024 according to Euromonitor’s Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel 2019 report, released at WTM.

While average spend per trip in destinations has fallen over the few decades, due to factors such as the rise of the low-cost carriers, Euromonitor is forecasting a slight increase by 2024, suggesting higher spending per trip as destinations shift to a sustainable tourism model.

Wizz Air boss expresses Brexit optimism

Speaking at WTM, Jόsef Váradi the CEO of low-cost carrier Wizz Air said since the Brexit vote, Wizz Air has grown over 60% in capacity in the UK and sees Brexit as an opportunity. “It will shake up the market, and we have already seen failures,” he said, “but the UK remains strategic for us irrespective of what happens with Brexit.”

WeSwap poll find consumers worried about how Brexit will impact holidays

Research by currency exchange firm WeSwap found that 63% of millennials are concerned that the cost of their holidays will increase once the UK leaves the EU and more than half (54%) of those asked are “most concerned” about the impact on their travel plans of the UK leaving the European Union.

Heathrow expansion would be halted by Labour

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, on 3 November, John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor said that a Labour Government would halt the expansion of Heathrow because climate change is the party’s number one priority.

Elsewhere in politics

  • The EU provided the UK with a new Brexit deadline of 31 January 2020
  • Parliament elected a new speaker, Sir Lyndsay Hoyle
  • According to the BBC, 70 MPs will stand down (not necessarily more than usual, but the number of household names standing down is unusual. The Times has suggested that Tory replacements are more likely to be leave candidates, whilst the Labour replacements will be more fervently remain)
  • The Tories had a 10- to 12-point opinion poll lead over Labour going into the campaign according to The Times.
  • Last week, Nigel Farage vowed to field Brexit Party candidates in every seat unless the PM ditched his withdrawal deal, which he called a “gigantic con.” This will potentially split the leave vote and will dent the Tories’ hopes of winning a majority. Today, Farage is under pressure to stand down some of his candidates, and at least one has done so
  • During his LBC radio show, Nigel Farage enjoyed a chat with caller ‘Donald from Washington’ – who championed Johnson and Farage and pilloried Corbyn. Labour hailed the call as a boost

As the BBC’s Electioncast reminds us daily, Brexit has been the cause of this election, but Brexit has not featured in a single Labour advert, reports The Times. However, there is not a single national Tory advert that does not mention leaving the EU.

Bruno Waterfield from The Times says the EU sees trouble ahead no matter what the outcome of the election… “The best base case for the EU is a majority for Boris Johnson, allowing him to get the new draft withdrawal treaty past the House of Commons...even then, the planned transition period has been cut from two years to one.”

The transition period is the time in which the EU and the UK will decide on a trade deal.

If Jeremy Corbyn was to win, there would be another extension, while Labour negotiated another deal, followed by another referendum.

Coffing up

The Institute of Directors published research from the think tank The Resolution Foundation which revealed that the Tories spending commitments would increase to 41.3% of GDP, while the rise in spending under Labour would be 43.3%. This research is based on promises so far, and not on the yet, unpublished, party manifestos. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50283719


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