An Abtot members’ study was damning, says Nick Parkinson of Travlaw

The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (Abtot) distributed a survey to their 170-plus members in August to canvass their views on the potential impact of Brexit to their business.

They were asked how concerned they were on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most concerned) about the potential implications of Brexit on a variety of issues. This found:

Issues Surrounding Brexit
Average Score (1-10)

1 Exchange Rates  7.7
2 The Impact Generally 7.4
3 Falling Out of the Open Skies Agreement 5.9
4 Restrictions on the Free Movement of Staff 5.9
5 Restrictions on the Free Movement of Tourists 5.5
6 Ability to Establish a Business in the EU 4.2

The biggest concern relates to exchange rates. Almost 50% marked the maximum score of 10.

The view of many was that a poor economic outlook generally is likely to have a negative impact on demand and sales.

Other comments were voiced, such as: “Ultimately it is going to result in higher prices for the consumer.”

Political Timeline:  possible Brexit outcomes

Let us consider the possible outcomes of the Brexit process.

Outcome A – The government reaches a deal with the EU at the next EU Summit, most likely with a ‘transitional period’ from March 29 2019 to December 31 2020 during which time it will largely be ‘business as normal’

Outcome B – The government fails to reach a deal with the EU this month but reaches a deal at an ‘emergency summit’ thereafter and before leaving the EU on March 29.

Outcome C – The government fails to reach a deal with the EU March 2019 but, with the approval of all 27 EU Member States, an extension of time is granted.

Outcome D – The government fails to reach a deal with the EU and ‘crashes out’ of the EU. The UK reverts to World Trade Organisation rules as the basis for the UK’s relationship with the EU thereafter.

Outcome E – The government yields to calls for a second referendum.

With so many permutations in play, it is no wonder Abtot members and the travel industry at large remain anxious over Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

Despite the Government’s White Paper released in July 2018 and an ongoing series of Technical Guidance Notices on the possible impact of a ‘No Deal’ scenario, the only things that are clear right now are that:

a)             It is unclear if or when a deal will be reached with the EU.
b)            It is unclear what the government’s intentions and expectations are in respect of travel services provided by UK businesses as part of the negotiation process with the EU.
c)             It is unclear what the full implications will be on the travel industry in the event of a ‘no deal scenario’.
Abtot asked its members, on a scale of 1-10, to what extent they felt the potential implications of Brexit on their business had been made clear to them by the government. The average score came out at 2.2.

Some Abtot members specifically turned to their politicians for guidance and answers when invited to provide additional comments:

“The Government, or should that be, the politicians, will simply move on, disaster or not. I can’t see my MP offering to help us out of the hole!”

With that in mind, Travlaw wrote to both Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer. We outlined the concerns and invited a discussion.

To date, no response has been received from the Brexit Secretary. We received a response from the office of Sir Keir Starmer:

“Apologies as we are not currently able to arrange a meeting due to diary constraints.  Thank you once again for getting in touch.”