Conservative majority – ‘best outcome for outbound travel industry’

The travel industry will be anxiously waiting the impact from a new Conservative government as Boris Johnson won an overall majority in the general election.

The prime minister is expected to outline his Brexit plans to leave the European Union at the end of January.

However, in early currency movements, the pound strengthened strongly against both the dollar and the euro in reaction.

Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni parent DER Touristik UK, tweeted: “This is the best short term result for the UK outbound travel industry” while admitting he would prefer the UK to remain in the European Union.

Abta pledged to work with the new government “to build confidence in travel further” while UKinbound urged continued dialogue with UK tourism industry.

Senior travel executives insisted they are “Brexit ready” while speaking at a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast on Wednesday.

The size of the Conservative party landslide became clear this morning with a majority of 76 seats with two seats left to declare as Labour lost more than 60 MPs and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in Dunbartonshire East by 149 votes. Meanwhile, the SNP came close to sweeping the board in Scotland.

There will be relief that a hung parliament has been avoided, bringing long-craved certainty to the economy.

With the final results from the election still coming in, the travel sector will now focus its efforts on the turn of year peaks period.

Johnson, who retained his seat in Uxbridge near Heathrow with 25,351 votes, will be expected to outline his party’s policy on expansion of the London hub and overall transport, taxation and environmental issues.

The Conservative manifesto made it clear there would be no new public money for a third runway.

“It is for Heathrow to demonstrate that it can meet its air quality and noise obligations, that the project can be financed and built and that the business case is realistic,” the manifesto said.

An Abta spokesperson said: “The general election result establishes a new political landscape that affects both Abta members and the general travelling public.

“Many issues have been raised and debated over the past six weeks, including the question of Brexit.

“The next government has an important role to play in providing the structures to enable our sector to prosper, whether that is establishing a flexible future trading relationship with the EU, working with our members to achieve climate change goals, or providing a taxation regime that allows the industry to thrive and make a positive social and financial contribution to the UK.

“Abta will represent the needs of our industry, and follow up on our priorities with the new government to build confidence in travel further.”

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “We welcome the new government and look forward to continuing our dialogue and working with them on the key priorities for the inbound tourism industry during the Brexit transition period and beyond.

“The industry contributed £23 billion to the UK economy last year but in order to keep growing and flourishing we need to have continued access to employees from all over the world, frictionless borders for our visitors post Brexit and continued strong promotion of the UK as a welcoming destination.

“We also urge the government to consider extending the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020 if needed so that businesses have enough time to prepare.”

Ferry firm DFDS expects that the Brexit deal will be passed by Parliament resulting in the UK leaving the EU on January 31.

The UK will then automatically go into a ‘transition period’, at least until December 2020.

The transition period means that the UK will still be in the EU’s economic zone – the single market and the customs union, including following EU rules and regulations.

But the timetable can change if the new government seeks a transition period extension, which would need to be agreed by the EU, by July 1.

An extension to the transition period can only be requested once and for one or two years.

DFDS vice president and head of short routes and passenger, Kasper Moos, said: “I want to reassure our passengers that we now expect an orderly transition for the UK to leave the EU, which means that there will be no changes to passenger travel until the end of December 2020 at the earliest.

“It is business as usual over the busy Christmas and new year period. We will still be linking the UK to Europe, Brexit or no Brexit.”

Rob Stross, chief marketing officer of peer to peer travel money provider WeSwap, said: “With this election result, the pound gained in value dramatically, meaning holidaymakers will get more foreign currency per pound than yesterday.

“However, Brexit is still looming and has caused huge fluctuations in value, so holidaymakers should look at planning ahead to get the best deal rather than wait until the day before they travel.”



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