While Britons continue to decide whether they want to remain in the European Union or leave, the consequences of leaving the union are numerous. Today, ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, published the results of an in-depth study it commissioned to discover what, if any, effects leaving the EU would have on the tourist industry. The conclusion is that the industry would suffer.

The comprehensive report ‘What Brexit might mean for UK Travel’ outlines what a vote to leave the European Union might mean for UK holidaymakers and travel businesses. With economic analysis from Deloitte, the professional services firm, the report assesses how the existing relationship between the UK and the EU has affected UK travellers and the travel industry and looks at what the likely impact would be of a “leave” vote on consumer confidence, expectation and behaviour as well as on the industry.

Over 29 million foreign holidays each year are made by UK holidaymakers to EU countries, equating to 76% of all holidays taken - with the Balearics and Spain being the most popular destination. Additionally, 68% of all business trips from the UK are to EU countries (4.6 million business visits).

There are currently many EU regulations that have been designed to benefit holidaymakers and business travellers. Although these regulations would not change immediately, Brexit could have a significant impact in the future. Of immediate concern is the impact that a period of uncertainty would have on the strength of the pound versus other currencies. A weaker pound has a direct impact on spending power overseas, making the cost of holidaying or visiting abroad more expensive as well as adding costs for UK businesses to buy abroad.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA's chief executive, said: “Our assessment of the report’s findings is that a vote to leave will lead to uncertainties and may lead to increased costs for travel businesses and the travelling public.

"We recognise that people will approach this referendum by considering many factors – personal, professional, and economic – before casting their vote. ABTA has considered what a vote to leave the EU might mean purely from a travel perspective. Our view is that the potential risks and downsides are not matched by an equal upside for the traveller.”

Three leading travel organisations have also said that Britain leaving the EU would be ‘disastrous’ for the tourism industry.
Monarch Group, Mediterranean specialist tour operator Esplora, and award-winning Belfast travel agent Knock Travel have expressed serious concerns that a Brexit would be negative for UK travel - believing it would inevitably lead to increased costs for the customer.

The main findings of  the report show that should Britain leave the EU, it would mean higher fares and prices for the customer  throughout Europe. Also contained in the report are nine ways in which UK holidaymakers have benefitted from being in the EU.
These include open skies and more flights, compensation for delayed flights, border-free travel and access to free health provision.