On Tuesday, the government issued a “travel and tourism industry communications toolkit” in the event of a no-deal Brexit. That this arrived just 11 weeks and three days before the UK officially exits the EU shouldn’t have been surprising – this being the same government that also awarded a Brexit ferry contract to a company with no ferries.
But given this is the busiest booking period of the year, such a resource might have been more helpful several weeks ago.
The toolkit centres on the changes to passport validity requirements in the event of a no-deal EU exit. These were, of course, initially published last September, but as one legal expert points out this week, the message wasn’t conveyed particularly loudly to consumers. (It’s been conveyed even more quietly to the travel trade; of the agents TTG spoke with, none had received the toolkit).
With Easter falling just three weeks after March 29, the passport office could be facing some hefty queues over the next two months.
Such notices being issued in the midst of peaks is not helpful for boosting consumer confidence – even more so given it coincided with the doom-laden warning from auditing firm KPMG, which suggested “the main issue keeping tour operators awake at night” is “the immediate impact of Brexit on holiday bookings”. Though it seems TTG readers are not quite so convinced.
In its same advisory, KPMG urged agents to focus on offering “better deals to more locations”. But as one savvy agent responded: “We don’t do deals, we do holidays... and people will always want a holiday, regardless”. We might have seen a slower “Sunshine Saturday” this year, but with strong wave bookings and further growth in sales this week, it seems he’s right.
The political chaos continues – but thankfully, so too, do the bookings.