The boss of Cosmos has warned “not many businesses are likely to be ready” for Brexit at the start of next year, when the transition period comes to an end.
Speaking at the Abta Travel Convention in a session exploring “Brexit preparedness”, Giles Hawke said having to prepare for Brexit while also operating under the shadow of Covid was a “huge challenge”, especially given the lack of a deal agreed between the UK and EU.
“One of the big challenges we’ve got is that we don’t know if there’s going to be a deal or no deal. We’re hoping there is some form of deal because that should give us some sort of clarity and a little bit of certainty - a no deal throws things into complete disarray. Every company needs to look at exactly what the bare bones of leaving the EU are.”
Hawke added he would “love the government to turn around and say because of what’s happening with Covid, because of the lateness of getting the deal or no deal, we should extend the period past the 1 of January or we should request that the EU allow us to extend by a little bit”.
“Because I don’t think many businesses are going to be fully ready on the 1 January given the background of everything else that’s going on more globally, and in travel,” he added.
Meanwhile travel journalist and broadcaster Simon Calder described Brexit as the “most brazen piece of political opportunism which will cause untold destruction to the travel industry”.
He also noted that ministers have made it clear the travel industry “is completely indispensible to the government”.
“The government doesn’t give a monkeys about the travel industry and I’m afraid we have to accept that,” he said. “The travel industry isn’t going to get any help from the government.”
Instead he urged the industry to focus on keeping customers informed of the changes to travel which Brexit will pose. “It’s about informing people. One hope I have for the travel industry is that people will recognise the value of proper travel professionals in putting them right [about their misconceptions] and keeping them informed,” he said.