The travel industry must look at the positives in the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement or risk “talking ourselves into recession”, industry leaders say.
Consortia, airlines and analysts have been analysing the draft withdrawal agreement that Theresa May and her cabinet put forward last week outlining their vision for the UK’s March 29 departure.
Buried in the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement, which could yet be blocked by Parliament, was a commitment that passengers flying from the UK to EU countries, and their cabin baggage, would be exempt from secondary security checks, easing fears of long waits in EU destinations. This followed details that emerged last week, including the European Commission and UK government offering reciprocal visa-free travel and assurance that flights would not be grounded.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of The Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “As an industry, travel has an important role in making sure we are looking at the positive aspects that will come out of Brexit and find solutions and opportunities.
“If you just read the headlines, you get the doom and gloom.
“We can’t bury our heads in the sand – we have an obligation to all our stakeholders, be it our customers, corporates and our employees, to keep our businesses thriving. Regardless of policy, businesses will continue to find ways to be prosperous. If we focus on the negatives it can be quite depressing and we are in danger of talking ourselves into a recession.”
Alistair Pritchard, lead travel partner at Deloitte, said: “There seems to be some positive news for the industry when you delve into the details of the European Commission’s recommendations.”
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer, however, urged members to plough ahead with Brexit contingency plans “whatever the scenario”, as it will be “difficult” to judge how Parliament will vote.
And outstanding issues remain, such as the rights of UK workers abroad, which includes holiday reps as well as EU staff employed in the UK.
Charles Owen, a founder of Brexit lobby group Seasonal Businesses in Travel, said: “There has been no clarification on the [EU] Posted Workers Directive…we still have a problem.”
The executive chairman of the Dart Group, owner of Jet2. com, called for a “pragmatic and balanced” Brexit agreement to overcome economic uncertainty. Philip Meeson warned of “significant cost pressures” post‑Brexit despite reporting a 38% rise in leisure travel revenue to £2.1 billion and an operating profit margin of 16%.
Special Report: Brexit ‘puts the role of reps and seasonal staff at risk’
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