There's no shortage of opinion around at the moment on the potential consequences of leaving the EU for the UK tourism sector.  We've compiled an overview of the some of the key concerns that have been voiced.

Tourism in the UK is currently worth £125 billion a year to the economy and contributes 9% of GDP and 10% of total employment.  The EU is the main destination for UK tourists with 76% (29.3 million) of foreign holidays taken within EU countries, 68% for business travel and 20% (8.7 million) trips to the EU to see family and friends.

So how would leaving the EU affect tourism:

A weaker pound - This will make travelling abroad for UK tourists more expensive as well as increasing the costs for UK businesses buying abroad but inbound tourists would benefit from better value for money.  This will affect the tourism balance of payments deficit because UK tourists will be spending more money abroad than tourists coming to the UK for holidays.  However a positive outcome may be an increase in Brits taking staycations.

Consumer Rights - The Package Travel directive offers protection in cases of insolvency of tour operators for packages booked within the EU.  These rights would only be available post-Brexit if new regulations were introduced in the UK.

Air Travel - costs of flights have decreased partly due to the removal of restrictive air service agreements within the EU and the creation of the 'single aviation area'.  Leaving the EU may result in higher air fares for those travelling outside the UK.

Compensation for Delayed Flights - Current EU passenger rights regulations mean that consumers not only have the right to compensation if their flights are delayed or cancelled but also to care and assistance such as food and drink and overnight accommodation.  These rights would be removed unless the UK government takes steps to replicate these in UK law.

Cleaner Beaches - The introduction of EU standards have led to improved sea water quality across European coastlines and a decrease in sewage pollution around the British coast.  Without pressure from Brussels, would the UK government keep the pressure on water companies to keep improving sewage treatment?

Mobile Roaming Fees - Caps for roaming charges have recently been introduced but these are due to be abolished by 2017, benefiting tourists travelling around the EU.  However if the UK was to leave, we'd be left out unless the UK government intervened.

Freedom of Movement - Although passport controls are retained in the UK (because we sit outside of the border-free Schengen area), UK consumers are able to travel freely within most of Continental Europe and EU citizens only experience basic border checks when they enter the UK.  The requirements for UK-EU travel in the event of Brexit would depend on the settlement reached.

Working in the EU - EU membership has enabled people to work in ski and beach resorts and fund trips around Europe by taking casual work along the way without a work permit.  It is thought that Brexit may result in these rights becoming more restricted. The UK travel and tourism sector also employs a significant number of immigrants.  Businesses in the sector could be challenged if limitations on the recruitment of foreign nationals were introduced.

Healthcare - All EU residents currently have access to a European Health Card (EHC) providing them with the same healthcare services in EU countries that is available to locals. Brexit would mean that this is then open to negotiation and would result in an increase in travel insurance premiums if access to healthcare became limited.

Duty Free - Although the right to buy duty free goods in another EU country ended in 1999 we gained the right to buy a virtually unlimited amount of duty paid goods such as wine from France for example.  Brexit may result in the return of duty-free allowances which would reduce the potential savings to be made. 

A report produced by ABTA and Deloitte aims to provide travel businesses with the facts and assessments to help inform their decision on the 23rd June.  Visit the Deloitte website to view the full report.

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