Consumer confidence is “clouded by uncertainty” and there is “real risk of disruption” from a no-deal Brexit, Abta chief Mark Tanzer has warned.

Tanzer told travel industry leaders in London: “This is not where we wanted to be.

“Enormous expense has been incurred by Government and business and the consumer is feeling less confident.

“There is clear evidence from our members that consumers respond to scare stories and we need to respond.”

Addressing an Abta briefing on Brexit and the Future of UK Travel on Thursday, Tanzer said: “An abrupt exit with no deal will be extremely damaging. There are real issues.”

He identified the biggest as staff issues and “what consumers need to know” and said: “The priority is to maintain the confidence of consumers.”

Tanzer insisted: “Flights will still be able to fly. The EU has confirmed flights will continue for 12 months, but the current proposal caps capacity at the summer 2018 level.

“Both the European Parliament and the Council now advocate that cap be deleted.”

However, Tanzer warned: “There is real risk of disruption at ports affecting passengers travelling by rail and ferry.

“Consumer spending and levels of confidence are clouded by uncertainty [and] there is no certainty on the status of posted workers.”

Yet Tanzer stressed “the underlying strength of the travel industry”.

He said: “Some £45.7 billion is spent on outbound travel in this country. The contribution to the UK economy is immense.

“It’s impossible not to be concerned about our current predicament. But people’s appetite for travel remains undiminished and this is an industry in which we lead the world.”

Tanzer told the audience of industry leaders and representatives of several government ministries: “What we need from the government is economic and political certainty.”

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