Thursday, June 30, 2016

How Will 'Brexit' Affect European Travel?



Here's a little tongue-in-cheek humor. I think it's a compliment, actually. We grabbed this photo in a cozy pub just off of the Rob Roy Way hiking trail. It was one of those perfect, movie-set pubs with stone walls, hand-hewn wooden beams overhead, a warming hearth, pewter mugs on the mantel, and pints of Real Ale flowing from a hand pump at the bar. Heaven!

Seriously though, how will last week's historic U.K. vote to leave the European Union, (known as 'Brexit'), affect foreign travel?

For the short term, only one thing has changed, and that's currency. The British Pound suffered a huge loss against other major currencies following the vote. This means that foreign travel just got significantly MORE expensive for U.K. travelers, and much LESS expensive for everyone else heading to the U.K. It's for this reason, that we recently discounted our U.K. hiking tours.

Wait! Shouldn't we leave the price the same, since the U.K. just became more affordable? We could have, but it now costs us less to run hiking tours there, so we're passing the savings on to our guests. It's a win win. Our guests get to travel to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland more affordably, and the bump in tourism gives our U.K. friends a much-needed infusion of cash. We're all doing our part. 

As for moving between countries, nothing has changed. British citizens can still live their lives and travel across borders as before, and the same rules still apply for everybody else. Americans, Canadians, Australians, French, Spanish…can all visit the U.K. like they've always done, only cheaper. Remember, last week's vote was just the first step in a lengthy process. In order to officially secede from the EU, the U.K. has to engage in a complicated process of negotiations with EU member countries before they are officially "divorced." During the negotiations, they'll have to sort out a whole host of details including trade and tariff agreements, rules on immigration, banking, the status of British citizens living abroad, etc. Technically, they have two years to hash this stuff out, but there is some debate right now as to when the clock should start ticking. Technically, the U.K. has to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in order to officially abandon the E.U. Some law experts say, however, that last week's vote triggered Article 50 and the clock is now ticking.

Regardless, it's going to take a while before we see what the long term travel effects will be. There is some speculation that airfare to and from the U.K. will become more expensive because airlines like British Airways will lose their airspace privileges in the EU. And what about rail travel between the U.K. and the rest of Europe? Like everything else, transportation contracts will have to be renegotiated. Of course, if the British Pound stays historically low, then it will hopefully offset any increases in transportation prices for visitors to the U.K. We anticipate that currency values will fluctuate quite a bit over the coming months as 'backdoor talks' and negotiations ensue. 

Outliers: There is a petition going around for an EU referendum re-run (a re-vote). Apparently, it already has 4 million signatures. Is there a chance that they can back out of this? The former British prime minister David Cameron stated repeatedly that last week's referendum would be binding. The world will just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we're offering a discount on our Rob Roy Way and Costwolds Way hiking tours. Don't let this historic opportunity pass you by. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still as beautiful as ever, and the Real Ale is equally delicious. If you've been on the fence because of expense, then don't delay. NOW is the time to visit the U.K!

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