UK outbound holiday bookings appear to have been up year on year in January despite Britain leaving the EU at the end of the month.
The government and industry sought to reassure consumers as Britain departed the EU on January 31
UK travel association Abta updated its Brexit advice to consumers and members this week to confirm “Everything remains the same” for 2020, and the message was confirmed by a series of government notices to UK travellers which boiled down to “No change” for now.
That message holds until December 31 amid signs UK consumers have thrown off the caution that hindered overseas bookings this time last year.
A leading industry source said summer 2020 bookings to the end of January were up on a year ago despite Thomas Cook’s loss from the market, noting: “Brexit had a big impact on bookings this time last year.”
Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, agreed saying: “Last January was a nightmare with the concern over Brexit.
“People are very pleased with this January. Everybody reached the end of the month happy with how business has gone.”
He suggested “some very good seat sales by airlines” had helped, making “prices lower in some cases than a year ago”.
But Bowen added: “It’s too early to say whether there is a ‘transition’ effect. People are taking bookings now, but in seven months we might be back where we were.”
He warned: “Boris Johnson keeps giving assurances. [But] if we reach September-October and there is no sign of a deal [with the EU) we’ll see the value of the pound falling. That is a real concern.”
Abta noted trade talks will start shortly and said: “The priorities for the industry include a comprehensive air service agreement, replacing the benefits of the EU Posted Workers Directive and retaining reciprocal healthcare.”
The association warned: “If a deal can’t be reached, there is a further threat of a no-deal cliff edge.”
Luke Petherbridge, Abta head of public affairs, said: “The risk of no deal may have subsided for now, but there is much work to be done.”
The advice can be found at abta.com/Brexit
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