The parliamentary showdown between MPs and the prime minister has heightened fears of a Brexit during the peak booking period which would be hugely “problematic” for the trade.

On Tuesday evening prime minister Boris Johnson lost his first vote in the Commons to rebel Tories and opposition MPs who object to a no-deal Brexit.

The Commons voted 328 to 301 to take control of the agenda, allowing them to bring a bill requesting a Brexit delay until January 31.


MoreComment: What might Boris mean for Brexit? [June 19]

UK inbound confidence defies heightened risk of no-deal Brexit [Aug 19]

Trade urges Boris to avoid a no-deal Brexit [Jul 19]


Sunvil chairman Noel Josephides said: “If it is January, this is really problematic. It is all about timing. The industry needs a [booking] pattern; it was destroyed this year. A lot of people will just wait longer to book.”

Advantage head of business development David Moon agreed: “If it is delayed until January, that would be the peak booking period and the uncertainty going on around this is the issue.

“Hopefully we’ll get a resolution by October 31 but if it falls in January that’s going to hit consumer confidence.”

He added: “The situation is changing constantly and that is the problem; this uncertainty will affect consumers.”

Giles Hawke, chief executive of Cosmos Tours and Avalon Waterways UK, said it was impossible to plan ahead.

He said: “It is really challenging to prepare for something none of us have had to deal with before in our working lives.

“It is a case of making sure staff are aware they are valued, keeping abreast of the situation and adapting as things change, and if you have EU nationals as staff, doing what we can to make sure they can continue to work for you.”

He added: “We are already looking at how we can put more focus on promoting our non-EU destinations but personally and professionally I’m worried about the impact of Brexit and for the future of staff and our customers’ propensity to travel.”

Josephides blamed national press coverage for negatively impacting consumer perceptions, particularly on currency.

He said: “The pound is worth around 1.10 Euros – around the same as when we costed our programme last year. There has been a lot of scaremongering about the pound plummeting.”

But he conceded: “It’s difficult to know when to hedge your currency; if you do it now and then find there is another referendum or we stay in the EU, you may find yourself stuck.”

Consortia advised agents to look at Abta’s advice on Brexit online, which remains unchanged.

MoreComment: What might Boris mean for Brexit? [June 19]

UK inbound confidence defies heightened risk of no-deal Brexit [Aug 19]

Trade urges Boris to avoid a no-deal Brexit [Jul 19]

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