The impact of uncertainty around Brexit on consumer behaviour could be one of the worst outcomes of the situation for travel businesses, according to dnata Travel Europe’s chief executive.
Speaking on a panel at the Abta Travel Convention in Seville, John Bevan said while a potential no-deal was a worry for businesses in the group like Travel Republic, “which is predominantly Europe”, it was the impact on consumer confidence which concerned him more.
“The best we can do at the moment is hope the two sides reach a reasonable agreement, and I think both want to find it as quickly as possible so we can be as prepared as we can and in as good a shape as possible.”
He continued: “My concern is more about the consumers… obviously we rely on forward bookings.
“As we get closer and closer, the more nervous they get and that’s probably what’s going to impact our industry more as people hold back waiting to see what’s going to happen, maybe not booking because they worry they might not be able to go anywhere. I think that’s more of a concern.”
Bevan added that he thought the Brexit deal would go “right to the wire”.
Richard Calvert, chief executive, Specialist Leisure Group, said there would be winners and losers from a no-deal outcome.
“There will be winners and losers,” he said. “In theory most of our business is domestic so we would be a winner if there was a no-deal.
“But in practice we would also be a loser because we have 1,500 colleagues from the EU who are working in 45 hotels.
“There is obviously a great deal of nervousness from those colleagues about what’s going to happen to their work situation.”
He added: “Both parties can’t afford to dilly dally much longer. It has to happen.”
Robin Shaw, chief executive, Saga Travel, said be believed a deal would be done.
“This is a one-off, clearly it’s hugely complicated,” he said. “Is it in both sides’ interest to get a deal? Ultimately I believe yes, and I think most politicians agree.
“Could there be a different outcome? Yes.
“There is a massive state of uncertainty but I think a deal will be done.”