The demand for holidays in the UK should continue to show a healthy increase in 2019 and beyond despite whatever the fallout of Brexit may be.
In 2017 the revenue contribution made by the tourism sector to the UK’s GDP stood at a mammoth £214 billion, up 6.2% on the previous year, and current forecasts predict even higher rises for the next two years.
This provides an opportunity for farmers, landowners and those looking to start a rural business, but what are the main factors are at play in driving the trend in holidaying in the UK?
At the forefront are seven unresolved issues affecting the travel sector which are currently causing concerns about booking a holiday to an EU destination after March 2019, and hence more people are looking to stay within the UK rather than jetting further afield.
1. Cost of flights
Potentially higher prices for flights to EU destinations as UK based airlines pass on rises in airport fees to passengers post removal of the ‘open skies’ policy.
2. Congested transport hubs
At airport and ferry port terminals, British citizens could be joining the ‘rest of the world’ queue at immigration desks in EU countries. Furthermore, operation stack on the M20 could bring Kent to gridlock making the journey to Dover tortuous, to say the least.
3. Removal of free hospital care
Sick holidaymakers may have to pay for the cost of treatment after the possible withdrawal of the European Health Insurance Card.
4. Passport restrictions
Your British passport may not yet have expired but it may be deemed invalid under EU rules if there is too little time to the expiry date.
5. Bureaucracy facing car drivers
You may now have to apply for an International Driving Permit to drive your own car or a hire car in EU countries.
6. Weak pound
Reduced spending power will take the shine off foreign holidays for many price-conscious holiday shoppers and in return, lead to an upsurge in foreign visitors.
7. Better weather in the UK
The long hot summer this year may have been a welcome blip but the memory will linger to stimulate advance bookings for next year.
This is welcome news for the 4 million people employed in the UK tourism sector. In terms of opportunity, it could be a good time for rural landowners located in tourist hotspots to press ahead with their diversification plans.