Britain could be seen by European visitors as a ‘basket case’ country for up to five years after a potential initial Brexit agreement according to a leading figure in the travel industry.
Tom Jenkins, executive director of the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) said the country is suffering from huge reputational damage thanks to Brexit that could last for years.
Speaking at World Travel Market in London today, the trade association boss said: “The initial withdrawal agreement has still not passed 3.5 years after the referendum – and the final agreement could take two to three times longer. We are looking at finally agreeing to leaving in perhaps five or six years. We are giving the impression that we are a confused state.
“That is not an impression that is going to go away quickly, but, of course there is a counter argument: that people do visit ‘basket case’ countries on holiday. The difficulty is that that until 2016, Britain was projected as and perceived to be a success story in Europe. London was THE place to be, but now that reputation is gradually eroding.”
Jenkins also revealed that the UK travel industry was woefully underprepared for a potential Halloween Brexit. “We organised a seminar on October 31 that was sponsored by the government to inform companies about the potential impact of Brexit. What was interesting was the total lack of preparedness that we were facing across the industry in the event of No Deal.”
Speaking at the same conference, VisitBritain’s Director of Strategy and Communications Patricia Yates revealed that a weaker pound was not resulting in more visitors to Britain but that the country’s reputation was a key driver.
“We have been doing sentiment research every six months since the referendum. You can see logically that the pound has been weaker and that should encourage people to come here, but people tell us we are still an expensive destination,” she said.