Around ten million outbound departures could be lost if the UK crashes out of the EU without a trade deal, a global marketing research company has warned.

Speaking at World Travel Market 2019, Euromonitor’s head of travel Caroline Bremner said an orderly Brexit, in which the UK leaves Europe with a free trade agreement in place, would result in the best outcome for the travel industry.

But in the worst-case scenario of a no-deal – a “disorderly” Brexit – Bremner warned of a return to a similar market to 2008 when the UK suffered an economic recession.

Talking at a panel discussion at WTM on what to expect in 2020, she said: “If we crash out with no deal, that would definitely write off 10 million outbound departures. We would go back to the economy growth of 2008 in terms of travel departures.”

She said: “We are on our third extension (of the Brexit date), leading to more uncertainty. At the moment the UK consumer and businesses are feeling that hit of uncertainty. We have just had the collapse of Thomas Cook, not related to Brexit but a contributing factor.

“The outbound market is much more dependent on the performance of the UK economy (than the inbound market). We predict that with a no-deal Brexit there would be a slowdown, and then it would recover. The best outcome would be a delayed free trade agreement.”

Celebrity Cruises vice president and managing director for the UK, Ireland and Asia, Jo Rzymowska, agreed: “An orderly Brexit is preferable; we would like to see more of an orderly Brexit.”

Bremner added that the UK economy had already contracted by 0.2% in the second quarter of this year. “We find out on November 11 if we are (officially) in recession,” she added.

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