Travel hopes Brexit clarity will bring end to forex volatility

It is hoped greater clarity on the UK’s plans for Brexit will stabilise sterling after it slumped to a 30-year low against the dollar and euro this week.

Travel bosses gave a lukewarm response to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit speech on Tuesday in which she set out her vision for a post-EU Britain.

It was confirmed the UK would leave the European single market, but that any agreement must “allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services”.

May confirmed there would continue to be a “common travel area” and that the UK would pursue “bold and ambitious” agreements with trading partners.

After the speech the pound rallied by as much as 2.5%, the biggest increase since 2008.

Andrew Shelton, UK managing director of Cheapflights, said currency fluctuations have a direct impact on demand in travel.

“Regardless of whether one agrees with the policy, clarification around the government’s position on certain aspects of what Brexit means should be welcomed as we will know what we’re dealing with going forward.

“Such ‘known quantities’ will also hopefully help take some of the recent volatility out of the currency markets and allow the pound to recover some of its pre-vote strength and stability.”

Aito chairman, Derek Moore, said: “Theresa May has set out a very tough line as she needs Brussels to know she means business, but I don’t think it sees us any closer to leaving.

“These are tough conditions but I don’t think it sees us any closer to leaving. It is a long way to go to having a clean break. She has set out a strong position but no more than that and it is easier to back down from a tough starting position than begin softly.”

Abta vowed to work ‘proactively’ with government to ensure firms continue to have access to the European aviation market, 
visa-free travel and can access 
and place staff in Europe.

Abta director of public affairs Alan Wardle said: “The EU is the main market for UK travel companies and in its negotiations the Government must make it possible for travel businesses to continue to operate in the EU. People want to continue to easily holiday and conduct business meetings in the EU.

“Amongst other things this means access to the liberalised aviation market in Europe, ensuring the public can still have visa-free travel and ensuring that travel businesses can access and place the staff they need to run effective businesses across the EU.”

He added that the association “will continue to work proactively with the government to raise awareness of the priorities for travel businesses, and UK travellers, as they negotiate a future trading relationship”.

Wardle said: “At the same time, we shall continue to press for government action to remove barriers to trade, such as ensuring we have sufficient airport capacity and reducing Air Passenger Duty to make sure the UK is in the strongest possible position post-Brexit.”

UKinbound also outlined its key concerns for the government to consider in future Brexit negotiations.

Chief executive Deirdre Wells said: “UKinbound welcomes the prime minister’s clear set of Brexit priorities and her commitment to transitional arrangements in order to avoid a disruptive ‘cliff edge’ scenario for businesses when Britain’s two-year Brexit negotiating period comes to an end.

“It is, however, imperative that a number of points are addressed in order to ensure that Britain remains a prosperous, tolerant and global trading nation.

“Regarding Britain’s withdrawal as a full member of the EU customs union, we urge the government to implement the best possible trading environment for goods and services in order to avoid increasing costs to our industry.

“This means ensuring that there are cost-effective trade deals outside of Europe, whilst still benefiting from a tariff-free trade with Europe.

“Furthermore, in order to achieve the government’s ambition of making Britain a magnet for international talent, we need to have an immigration system in place which is flexible to business needs.

“The application process of tourist visas will also need to be eased in order to achieve this desired global approach for the UK.”

Wells added: “Whilst it is disappointing that we will leave the single market, UKinbound will continue to engage with the government and its agencies to ensure that matters relating to the tourism industry are fully understood and taken into account during Brexit negotiations, including the open skies agreement and recruitment of workers with language skills.”

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