Then, we explored the pros and cons of what a Brexit might mean for the travel industry, and with more than 90% of the room voting overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU, it’s likely many never really thought it would become a reality.
Alas – or happily (depending on your view) - it did. And with it, came the expected ripples of economic uncertainty and currency fluctuations that were blamed for the demise of the Lowcosttravelgroup on July 15. This was the subject of our latest debate, with our panel of industry leaders exploring among other points, just how far Brexit was really to blame for the OTA’s collapse.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems most of the room considered the referendum a handy excuse. Indeed, Advantage managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said suggested footfall had actually increased for members in recent months – perhaps, the panel suggested, because now more than ever consumers seek that security of face-to face service in the wake of Lowcost’s failure.
Business certainly seems to be booming for the high street agents that we’ve been talking to this week. While OTA Yourtravel is preparing to launch a Dubai specialist next year, miniple Millington’s Travel has revealed grand expansion plans to open more stores, Vertical Group’s homeworking agency Your Holiday Booking is to open a series of pop-up travel shops within Tesco stores and independent West country-based agency C The World has just opened the doors of another new agency.
Even the Office for National Statistics suggested last week that official figures showed there had so far been little impact of the Brexit vote on the UK economy
But I can’t help but wonder if the ripples may yet turn into a tsunami – it will be interesting to see what a difference the next five months makes.