A no-deal outcome will have a significant impact on both the UK and European travel sectors which coupled with the colossal impact of COVID-19, will further delay tourism recovery, Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel analyst at GlobalData, told the Cyprus Mail in an interview.
About 70 million Brits travelled to Europe in 2019. GlobalData’s forecasts see international departures from the UK to Europe declining by -40 per cent due to COVID-19 as the second wave encroaches.
“The impact of COVID-19 coupled with Brexit uncertainty, would likely see international departures from the UK fail to reach pre-crisis levels until at least 2022,” Bonhill-Smith warns.
As a whole region, Europe accounted for almost 80 per cent of all international departures from the UK in 2019.
“UK tourists are a critical source market for many a European destination as its unique natural and cultural pull coupled with general accessibility and affordable pricing has caused it to remain a firm favorite for British travelers. Tourism businesses including tour operators, travel agencies and airlines operating across the region have previously capitalised on demand due to this offering. All involved however could potentially be subject to new restrictions and regulations that could negatively impact recovery.”
“COVID-19 has also decimated UK travel confidence,” she continues. Ever-changing restrictions on quarantine measures and ‘travel corridors’ have severely damaged confidence and only 30 per cent of UK respondents said they will consider booking an international trip in 2020 (GlobalData’s latest consumer survey). A no-deal scenario could further cause added confusion within the travel process, as tourists would then have to account for increased transportation costs, harsher policies at border control, higher health insurance costs, additional roaming fee expenses, stricter car rental regulations, etc. – areas which were once simple for UK tourists as they moved freely. The weakening of the pound, will impact UK Plc causing tourists to generally re-think the recreational expense of a holiday and further delay travel in its recovery,” Bonhill-Smith says.
Overall, all industries across the travel sector will feel the strains if no agreement is formed. Europe will remain a firm favorite for UK travelers with strong cultural relations spurring travel but the impact of a no-deal scenario will further delay travel recovery for 2020-21.
How will this affect Cyprus?
UK tourists are the main source market for the Cypriot travel industry accounting for over 33 per cent of its total international arrivals in 2019. Any loss of the UK source market could be detrimental for the Cypriot travel industry in its local tourism recovery, therefore it is critical that operators are interacting now to stimulate future interest.
The devaluation of the pound and crippling of the UK economy is one of the major effects that a no-deal Brexit may have on UK outbound travel. Tourists however may turn to package holiday operators such as TUI and Jet 2 for additional security and easily-accessible information regarding any new restrictions. Cyprus is a popular package holiday destination for many a UK traveler and thus may benefit. Package holiday operators generally offer a guaranteed promise of ATOL protection, insurance and general added security when booking – which may help ease traveler doubt post Brexit potentially aiding Cyprus’s travel recovery.