What will Brexit mean for Travel?

June 22, 2016

With the EU Referendum only a day away, we assess what Brexit could mean for travel.

Travel and politics are hardly a match made in heaven but as a team of eager jet-setters who are constantly flying around Europe, when it comes to how Brexit will affect our holidays, our ears are open.

As June 23rd fast approaches, many are still undecided on whether to vote remain or leave. With the hottest debates centralised around topics like immigration, trade and jobs, we take a look at what Brexit will mean for travel and tourism. As for all the other stuff, we’ll leave that to the suits.

The Facts...

Statistics and facts graphic
  • Around 1.3 million Brits are currently living in another EU country.
  • The most popular holiday continent for Brits is Europe with nearly 50 million visits in 2014.
  • 27% of UK emigrants moved to the EU for work in 2014.
  • Thousands of Brits own holiday homes in the EU.
  • One of the hottest Brexit topics is free movement of people which is one of the founding principles of the EU.

Summary of What the EU Does for Travel Now

Graphic for Brexit showing EU and British flags merged.
  • Citizens of the EU have the right to live, work and travel throughout the EU with healthcare and public services accessible.
  • Airline passengers are entitled to financial compensation in all EU member states providing they are departing from an EU airport or arriving in the Eurozone with an EU carrier.
  • If an EU citizen is in another EU country and studying at a university, they will pay the same fees as locals.
  • If you are an EU citizen you are entitled to an EHIC and the same health services on the same terms as the locals in another EU country.

Flight Costs

Plane flying into the sunset

It is argued that Brits have access to low air fares because of a common aviation area created by the EU; a point strongly backed by the chief executive of EasyJet, Carolyn McCall. McCall says it’s the introduction of many air routes and the freedom to fly across Europe which has allowed airline companies to prosper and offer low and competitive fares.

While some say leaving the EU will see flight prices increase, leave campaigners believe retaining control of aviation policy won’t result in an increase in prices as they are confident in negotiations to obtain access to the EU aviation market given Britain's huge foothold in the tourism industry.

Flight Compensation

Departures board at the airport shows cancelled and delayed flights

With some airlines’ reluctance to care for their passengers properly, the EU enforced a law so that airline passengers are eligible for financial compensation if their flight is delayed. If Britain were to leave the EU then airlines would not be legally obliged to care for their customers which could result in a lack of assistance and holidaymakers left without overnight accommodation (for example) if their flight is delayed or cancelled.

Ironically it is also argued that being in the EU and the result of high compensation fees paid out by airlines could have had an adverse effect on flight costs. It is speculated that coming out of the EU and lower compensation fees could actually result in cheaper flights. Either way, leave campaigners say the government would bring in their own protection laws for consumers if Brexit were to happen.

Healthcare Abroad

European doctor standing beside EU flag

One of the biggest benefits of being in the EU is that UK citizens are entitled to free or reduced medical cover in other EU countries thanks to their European Health Insurance Card. In addition, many Brits also purchase travel insurance before they go overseas, offering them more advanced cover and peace of mind. However, heavy excess payments are often waived by insurance companies if you have an EHIC.

Many British expats in EU countries are particularly worried about Brexit having a negative effect on their healthcare as their rights to it would be stripped with renegotiations needed in order to secure their (and other holidaymakers’) healthcare abroad. But if Britain leaves the EU, can we renegotiate a deal which will emulate or better the healthcare we have in Europe now? Leave campaigners say yes; remain campaigners say it isn’t worth the risk.

Overall Holiday Costs and Entry to EU Countries

Two British passports

Nobody knows for sure what will happen to the pound. Remain campaigners argue its value will decrease in the event of Brexit, with David Cameron suggesting a week-long holiday for four abroad would cost a family an extra £230. Leave campaigners rubbish those claims and believe leaving will open up new trade possibilities which will help the economy to grow and the pound to prosper as a result.

However, if that were true, even leading leave campaigner Dominic Raab concedes that Britons may need visas (or some other kind of check) to visit an EU country although he argues this is a small price to pay for tightening up the UK's borders.

Customs Regulations and Duty Free

Couple shopping duty free

Many Brits are currently able to take advantage of buying cheap overseas goods and bringing them back in mass quantities to the UK. French wine is a typical example; it's substantially cheaper in comparison to UK prices thanks to lower alcohol taxes in France. Current EU law allows Brits to return with 800 cigarettes, 110 litres of beer and 90 litres of wine whereas citizens from countries outside the EU can only return with 200 cigarettes, 16 litres of beer and four litres of wine. As such, it's assumed that leaving the EU would see our current allowance drastically cut. However, leave campaigners have been quick to point out that Brexit could see the return of duty free shopping.

If there are any other points you'd like to get across or questions you may have regarding the effect of Brexit on travel, tweet us @travioor or send us a message on Facebook.

Ben Leach Ben's longest trip involved 15 months of backpacking around Australia and Southeast Asia, and now he shares his experiences with Travioor from London. Luckily, after spending so long staring at cheesy sunsets, drinking too much Goon and eating his weight in Pad Thai, he can still manage to put a few words together.