The decision to postpone the U.K.’s divorce from the European Union has given Brits certainty over at least one thing: their summer vacations.
Ferry bookings to cross the English Channel surged 40 percent overnight after the U.K. and EU agreed last week to delay Brexit until October, said Niall Walsh, chief marketing officer at London-based online ticketing service Direct Ferries.
“The Brexit delay announcement has injected a huge amount of confidence into the market and we’ve seen a drastic change in booking volumes since last week,” Walsh said.
Similarly, the April 11 agreement triggered a 172 percent year-over-year gain in weekly business at Miles Morgan Travel, according to its eponymous founder. The travel agency, with 15 locations in southwest England and Wales, had endured two quiet weeks as the possibility of a chaotic exit grew. Normally, 15 percent growth would be regarded as a great week, Morgan said.
The uptick in demand comes after airlines and tour operators warned that Brexit could make for weaker bookings for the crucial summer season in 2019. Earlier this month, EasyJet said that the protracted negotiations were leading to fewer summer bookings, while tour operator Saga said that the drawn-out divorce was “putting a clear dampener on customers’ willingness to commit to holidays in 2019.”
For now, worries about backups at Dover or the economic fallout of a hard Brexit have melted away — or have been kicked down the road.
“Our greatest fear was that there was going to be a delay until June,” said Richard Singer, CEO at price comparison site Ice Lolly, where searches jumped 5.5 percent last week. “The fact that it has been extended post the summer is actually a great relief.”
Despite all the agreements made to ensure easy travel between the EU and the U.K. after Brexit, people “don’t trust that the arrangements will work smoothly,” he said.
The European Commission and U.K. government have offered assurances that even in the event of no-deal Brexit, airlines will still be able to operate flights between the two jurisdictions. Beyond some issues over pet passports, international driving permits and insurance, even the hardest of exits should cause few problems for British tourists, according to the Association of British Travel Agents.
“I think Brexit fatigue is what we are seeing, and what I call the sod-it factor,” said Morgan, owner of the travel agency based in Chepstow, Wales. “People just think, ‘sod it,’ and book their holiday.”
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Photo Credit: Sod it, we’re all going on a summer holiday. Bloomberg.