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No-deal Brexit: The consequences for tourism

All those in positions of responsibility are well aware that the impending departure by the United Kingdom from the EU will have a severe impact on the tourism industry. The freedom of travel will be at risk, and in particular there is a danger that aviation could be interrupted from one day to another. Under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Martin Meissner, attorney and partner at Reed Smith LLP, a panel of experts met at the ITB Berlin Convention 2019 to discuss the possible effects of an uncontrolled split. Prof. Dr. iur. Elmar Giemulla, an expert in aviation law, began by pointing out the extent of the privileges that the United Kingdom would lose from no longer being a member of the single EU market. Following the departure from the EU it would be vital for airlines based in the UK to demonstrate as soon as possible that their effective control was in the hands of a majority of shareholders who are not based on the island, in order to be able to continue to enjoying certain rights (for example, regarding flights within the EU). “Uncertainty is bad for business”, warned Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel Research at Euromonitor International. If the UK were to leave the EU without a deal it would face the risk of a three per cent decline in its GNP for at least five years. “On the other hand a fall in the value of sterling would reduce the cost of travel to the island.” Christoph Debus, Chief Airlines Officer at Thomas Cook Group, sees himself as a true European. “Half French, half German, and living in England”, he emphasized the main achievement of Europeans in recent years: “Those who trade with one another do not go to war.” He described the current situation, with no apparent conclusion, as impossible, because “it is the customers who will have to pay the cost”. This view was also shared by Prof. Giemulla, pointing out that the regulation of consumers’ rights is completely unresolved – “a complete mess!” In Debus’ opinion accessibility within Europe has never been greater, and he also mentioned the benefits for all users of the roaming arrangements for mobile phone as one of the many achievements of the single market, and as something that people now take for granted. However, the main problem of Brexit concerns the uncertainty about the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, on which Brussels cannot make any concessions.” The Thomas Cook Group is, however, well prepared for the worst outcome, an unregulated Brexit.

The panel did not share the fear that new travel regulations would result in more UK citizens vacationing at home: “The weather is too unpredictable for that”, claimed Debus with a smile.

Robert Kluge

ITB Berlin 2019, ITB Convention 2019, ITB Future Day

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