Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer has warned of a risk of “a general slowdown” in the economy and called on the government to make air access to the EU a priority in Brexit talks.
Speaking at the Business Travel Show in London, Tanzer said: “We need to encourage confidence to travel.”
He said: “Abta did a lot of work on the implications of Brexit in the run up to the referendum and we saw more downside than upside.
“We anticipated the hit to sterling. Now we see a general uptick in inflation which will eventually put a dampening effect on demand.
“We don’t know what will happen to the UK economy, [but] people are delaying decisions on investment.” He suggested there is a risk of “a general slowdown in economic activity”.
Tanzer said: “The issue of air access has to be addressed – if not, it will damage confidence. Airlines, businesses have to be able to plan.
“Free movement is important. The status of people [EU residents in the UK] is highly emotive, but it will go into the general negotiations and no one knows how it will come out.”
He warned: “We can’t just say ‘we’ll keep something’, it’s up to the other side.”
“What we must have is the ability to fly in and out of the UK point to point across Europe.”
However, Tanzer said: “Brexit won’t be a complete separation. We have all sorts of relationships [with Europe] that have to carry on.”
He added: “Globalisation has been good for travel and we’ve seen people react against it. For travel, anything that threatens it is bad, but for travel organisers anything that adds complexity – if travel is not quite as easy as people thought – may not be a bad thing.”
Tanzer said: “We have a strategy at Abta – the government may not but we do. We stick closely to our issues when speaking to government.
“We’ve got to be positive. We’ll still be a major economy. People will still be travelling.”
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