The booking behaviour of British holidaymakers for EU destinations, including Greece, does not seem to currently have a “Brexit effect”, according to research presented by ForwardKeys on Monday during the World Travel Market (WTM) London.
However, according to ForwardKeys, next January and Q1 2019 as a whole will be key, as if there is still no Brexit deal by then and consumers start panicking, the outlook could rapidly start to look very different for bookings to EU countries.
At the moment, Greece’s market share remains stable, “which means growth”, says Olivier Ponti, the VP of Insights for ForwardKeys.
“We see an increase which is very much in line with the average for this region… What we see at the moment is that people are still booking Greece for the summer of 2019,” Ponti told GTP Headlines, adding that if it becomes very complicated for UK visitors to travel to EU destinations, probably there will be an impact.
“People will choose for destinations which are easier to get to… They will travel to where they know the rules of the game… But if there is a deal and it looks like ‘business as usual’, I see no reason why Greece would be negatively impacted.”
On his part, David Hope, Business Group Director Retail & Technology of GfK, told GTP Headlines that bookings from the UK to Greece for summer 2019 are up by some 11 percent up following a very strong summer 2018 and that as long as the pricing is OK for the tour operators to do business in the country, then it will (continue) to attract tourists.
“At the moment we are seeing growth for summer 2019… As we get a little bit closer and it becomes a little more of a reality, I think that it is when it is going start to impact… January to March will be a critical time for the industry… If we do not have a deal in place ahead of that, we are going to see huge shifts in patterns and it is going to impact the profitability of the industry and it will make it a very tough year,” he said.
Kountoura: We have no indication of a shift in UK Bookings to Greece
Regarding Greece and a possible “no-deal” Brexit scenario, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura echoed Ponti’s data, underlining that, until today, there is no worry or some indication that UK travelers will change their summer plans to the country.
“We are concerned of a possible impact on UK arrivals due to Brexit,” Minister Kountoura told GTP Headlines, underlining that the ministry has been in contact with the British Embassy in Athens as well as tour operators on the issue.
“Right now, all the factors such as ABTA and leading tour operators such as TUI and Thomas Cook see that there is no concern… Bookings are being made, we are among the most important destinations for UK travelers… We will see in the future whether a problem will be created and if there is we will be ready to deal with it, as I imagine all other markets will deal with the situation.”
Retsos: There is a climate of uncertainty
“Despite the fact that for the last year and a half there have been assurances from both sides – Europe and Britain – that the transition will be smooth, no one can say for sure how much the final outcome of the negotiation will affect the psyche of the British tourist,” Retsos said.
Vassilikos: January-March 2019 will be an “interesting” first quarter
Hellenic Chamber of Hotels President Alexandros Vassilikos said that there is a concern of the “big question” on what impact Brexit will have on travel and tourism.
“Of course, there is a concern, no one knows what to expect and this is never good for tourism. Whenever there is a vague environment, tourism is always the first product that pays the price, like other consumer goods,” he said, adding that right now a possible “no-deal” Brexit scenario does not seem to be overturning Greece’s positive course, regarding UK bookings.
“Of course, the first three months of 2019 will reveal the final trend… It will be an interesting first quarter.”
Tasios: We should have a better impression in January 2019
According to Tasios, regarding Greece, bookings are moving normally and steady at the moment, with no big increase.
Tasios said that industry professionals are planning an informal meeting in January 2019, when the economic developments for Britain and the European Union will be more clear, as well as the behavior of British travelers in terms of bookings.
“So right now we focus on the positive climate that exists for the country and that is also apparent at the WTM, and we will get together and discuss in January, when there will be a better idea on how the Brexit effect will turn out,” he said.
“From there on we will have a better understanding of what to expect next summer.”
In the meantime, according to WTM London, industry experts are advising politicians to take the research from ForwardKeys as a warning and seal a deal as soon as possible, to ensure that consumer confidence is maintained and that travellers can continue to cross the borders between the UK and Europe seamlessly.
A no Brexit deal could mean UK travelers having to obtain a Schengen visa to travel to the EU, long queues at passport control, as well as a lack of agreed regulations governing flights between Britain and the EU.