The impact on the travel and tourism sectors of various countries due to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on March 29 (Brexit) was among the main topics of discussion during this year’s ITB Berlin 2019 exhibition, held last week in Germany.
Greece is among the destinations across the world that are expected to be affected by a “No-deal” Brexit, according to Euromonitor International. The UK is Greece’s second biggest incoming tourist market.
However, according to Euromonitor International’s head of Travel Research, Caroline Bremner, if Greece keeps its prices at competitive levels, the impact will perhaps not be so severe.
“Basically what we are seeing in the UK this year is that the pricing of Greece (for holidays) seems very competitive… This is good for Greece’s positioning to the UK consumer when he is being more price sensitive,” Bremner told GTP Headlines on the sidelines of the ITB Berlin expo.
“If you look at tour operators such as Barrhead Travel, TUI, Thomas Cook and On The Beach, you will see accessible pricing for holidays in Greece,” she added.
Bremner also said that along with keeping prices at competitive levels, the value for money factor is essential to attract UK travelers.
“Value for money is important… People will pay more but expect a higher quality service. They expect really, truly unique local authentic experiences. So it’s not just about the hotel, but it is also about what travelers can do in the destination,” she said.
Holidaymakers want “no hassle” when traveling
When asked what her advise would be to Greek tourism officials in the case of a “no-deal”, Bremner said that Greece could follow Portugal’s example and designate queues and lanes in airports for UK visitors, as after Brexit they will no longer have access to the EU/EEA lanes.
“So to avoid queues and disruption, Portugal is now allocating lanes for UK visitors. Countries that are highly dependent on the UK will see that this will help facilitate the flows through the airport… It is all about the hassle factor, if you remove that then consumers will be happy,” she said.
Regarding new travel regulations after Brexit and if they will result in more British citizens vacationing at home, Bremner said that she is not seeing the UK’s outbound tourism dramatically down and domestic tourism massively up.
“What we are seeing is that there is going to be a slowdown in outbound tourism. It will be sort of stagnant and then pick up again. But I am not seeing that necessarily shifting to a dramatic boost in domestic tourism… There is still interest in traveling abroad,” she underlined.
‘Brexit: Great Britain Tourism at a Crossroads’
During ITB Berlin, Bremner took part in a panel discussion, entitled Brexit: Great Britain Tourism at a Crossroads, alongside Christoph Debus, Chief Airlines Officer at Thomas Cook Group, and Dr Elmar Giemulla, Professor of Administrative Law and an expert in aviation law.
According to a report by Euromonitor International (with data for Q1 2019, based on the latest Q4 2018 research update), presented by Bremner, due to the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with the EU after March 29, weak consumer confidence will translate into growth halving for UK outbound travel to 2 percent for UK departures in 2019 in the case of a delayed Free Trade Agreement.
Also, despite assurances from the European Commission that flights will continue even in the case of a no-deal Brexit, there are concerns about the removal of frictionless travel, leading to airport queues, supply chain disruptions, as well as shortages of food and medicines in the UK.
Moreover, the report said that countries around the world are adopting a brace position in case of a no-deal Brexit. Spain is forecast to be the hardest hit, with Spain’s tourism potential growth reduced by 5 percent by 2022.
The report noted that the probability of a “no-deal” Brexit has sharply increased over the past six months with a probability rate of 43 percent.