It is difficult to pen a relevant and up-to-date article about Brexit; by the time you’ve finished a sentence, something has changed and you have to start again, writes Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer.
The current position is we are due to leave the EU on April 12. Prime minister Theresa May is in talks with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn about how to reach a deal.
The PM has also written to the EU to request an extension until June 30 and will meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron to negotiate this ahead of a vote at a meeting of the European Council on Wednesday (April 10).
EU leaders will need to agree any extension unanimously for it to be approved.
This ongoing political uncertainty is nothing new, with travel companies having to plan and operate in an environment where we don’t know what is happening from one week to the next.
The challenge with such a complex political environment is that it can be difficult for customers to understand what exactly is going on and what it means for their travel plans.
Maintaining consumer confidence is one of our primary objectives.
Abta has been running a national advertising campaign to help holidaymakers and business travellers understand what Brexit may mean for their travel plans, and to provide reassurance.
Our advice page has been viewed more than 260,000 times and is updated as and when further information is available.
The advice has also appeared in more than 200 pieces of media coverage since January, and we’ve conducted more than 40 broadcast interviews.
The reality is two of the biggest concerns travellers have about Brexit – whether flights will run and if they need a visa – have been resolved, even if the UK leaves without a deal.
Just last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of UK visitors being able to travel to the EU for up to 90 days (within a 180-day period) without a visa, and a few weeks earlier, the UK government and European Parliament confirmed flights between the UK and the EU will still be able to operate.
Abta has been lobbying on these issues since the referendum, with both identified as priorities for the UK outbound travel industry.
It’s good to see plans have been put in place to maintain vital transport and tourism links, whatever the outcome.
However, it remains Abta’s position that the government and MPs should be exploring all available options to avoid a no-deal exit. Whatever happens, we’ll still need to negotiate longer-term arrangements.
To this end, Abta continues to work tirelessly on industry and consumer priorities with the UK government, as well as with officials in Brussels and leaders in-destination.
As the Brexit process continues, we will explore every avenue to support consumer confidence and ensure the main priorities for the travel industry are recognised.
We will also continue to work with the UK government in their preparations for a no-deal exit, representing our members’ interests and bringing them and officials together to talk through the plans.