Online travel firms Travelzoo and Cheapflights have expressed concern that Britian’s vote to leave the EU could see the cost of holidays increase.
Ahead of last night’s 52% to 48% referendum in favour of Leave, Ryanair issued a €9.99 seat offer to celebrate what it expected would be a win for Remain.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “If the Leave side do win, then these will be the last low-fares the UK will enjoy for a very long time.”
Reacting to the result today, Travelzoo UK managing director, Joel Brandon-Bravo, said: “With so many variables in play it’s difficult to predict the exact impact the Leave vote will have on the tourism industry, but research suggests it will be a negative one.
“In order to ensure UK travellers and the UK tourism industry do not suffer as we enter the busiest months for travel, the UK government has got to enter negotiations with Brussels immediately over the EU policy which impacts travel.”
He described the next 24 months of negotiations as being crucial for British travel – particularly if the government wants to maintain inbound tourism from the EU and avoid a price hike for Britons wanting to travel abroad for holidays.
“Obviously top priority is dealing with the impact the referendum result will have on the value of the pound, but there are other factors that could make the result a big blow for the travel industry,” Brandon-Bravo cautioned.
“As such, we’re now urging the government to act quickly to renegotiate how an independent UK operates in The European Common Aviation Area.
“UK airlines seem unanimous in the opinion that a Brexit will lead to reduced competition, reduced routes and higher travel prices. A concern shared by UK consumers with over a quarter (28%) saying they’re worried a Brexit will lead to more expensive holidays.
“Other factors now also up for negotiation, that could lead to a price hike for British tourists include the loss of the EHIC card – which gives EU members the right to health treatment in any EU country, a potential increase in roaming charges following a recent EU initiative cap on charges, and, inevitable changes to visa regulations for Britons travelling to the EU.”
Andrew Shelton, managing director of global flight search and travel deals website, Cheapflights.co.uk, said the referendum result will throw the spotlight onto the many benefits of EU membership British travellers have taken for granted for years.
These, he said, include the “agreements which created the environment for the budget airlines to thrive and kept airfares low across the board and encouraged the free movement of people, a currency deal that has made the Eurozone so cheap to visit for years, the end of mobile data roaming charges, and free healthcare within the EU”.
Shelton added: “Nobody could predict the outcome of the referendum, and we now face an uncertain future of speculation and renegotiation. Those who have thought ahead and conducted thorough scenario planning for this eventuality are those who are best placed to navigate this new pathway – although we fear few will have done so given today’s shocked reactions.
“Holidaymakers shouldn’t assume that Brexit means all that will be lost. The UK travel market is vital to the economy of many European countries and regions. It will be in their interests to seek ways to maintain the status quo.
“The Government must now work hard to secure deals with the EU that support our vibrant industry and we believe maximum effort will be going in from all sides in the coming months and years to ensure the UK cash cow isn’t put out to pasture.
“The most significant short-term impact for holidaymakers will be the currency shock – those who have already booked a holiday in Europe this summer will be concerned that their pound will not go as far. We have to hope that the steep downward fall we saw this morning settles itself as the news sinks in.
“We found that there is a significant degree of pent-up demand among holidaymakers as people waited to see which way the vote went before booking their holiday, which we expect to be released – perhaps not immediately – now that the outcome is known.
“Yes, some holidaymakers will be deterred from booking by the falling pound overnight. But the British traveller has proven time and time again that nothing will stand in the way of them having their hard-earned holiday. Longer term, our industry must pull together to protect and preserve the service we deliver to our customers, and our intrinsic value.”