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How brexit will affect UK business travelers
From the moment the decision to leave Europe by the UK became a reality; the question on many business travelers was the impact it will have on travelers from Europe to UK and vice versa. Despite there being many opinions from experts, no one knows for sure the state of business travel once all the dust settles. In fact, it will take a long time before we know the outcome.
The complexity of leaving the EU is a new phenomenal and no one has done it before. The truth of the matter is that it might take several years before the UK can permanently leave the EU. Many things can change between then and now depending on how these negotiations go.
Freedom of movement
In the short term, not much will change for business travelers between Europe and the UK. There will be freedom of movement and people and goods will move freely. The Association of British Travel Agents [ABTA] says travelers can move freely between Europe and the UK as it were before the vote.
The health insurance cards issued by the European Union are valid and the passengers' rights will continue to apply. When the UK formally leaves the EU, then the remaining members will make negotiations with the United Kingdom on future trade dealings.
According to the European Union justice minister, in the longer term, visas will be a requirement for the UK business travelers who want to visit Europe. However, he noted that will be a matter that will be dealt with in the post withdrawal negotiations. The matter of visas cannot be ruled out if the UK wants safer borders.
Nonetheless, many expect that the UK will negotiate a deal, whereby travelers from the Kingdom will only need their passports to travel to Europe. Considering that there are so many UK tourist that visit the EU countries, requiring them to produce a visa will harm the economies of these countries. Therefore, travel for meetings, conferences, and other business purposes will not suffer.
Cost of travel
One of the immediate impacts of brexit is the drop in value of the pound. It is at a 31-year low against the American dollar. Nonetheless, many of the companies that export to Europe will welcome this, as it will make services and goods less expensive. However, it will mean that hotel rates and travel will be more expensive.
The cost of travel will most likely go up because oil is priced in US dollars. The consequence is that diesel, petrol, and all the aviation fuel prices will go up. The cost of aircrafts is also in US dollars. Airlines that want to invest in new aircrafts will pay more, and will ultimately have to increase the ticket prices.
The European Union has had an 'open skies' policy since 1994. The policy allows any EU airline to fly anywhere in the within the Union. The effect of the policy is that budget airlines have grown, forcing companies like Air France and BA to reduce their prices so that they can remain competitive. Since the introduction of the policy, fares have dropped 40% where as the routes increased by 180%. When the UK finally leaves the union, new agreements will come up, competition will reduce, and the fares will rise.
Mobile phone roaming charges
In the past, companies in the communication industry were charging roaming charges for those using their phones outside the United Kingdom. The cost of using a mobile phone in Europe has decreased and the roaming charges will be abolished altogether. This will save business travelers a lot of money. By leaving the EU, the charges in the United Kingdom will rise again.
The controls on these roaming charges are under the European Union regulation. This means they are not in the UK law. Therefore, the UK will decide whether to keep them or not.
Currently medical treatment is discounted or free in most of the EU countries. However, this may change if the UK leaves the European Union. EU membership protects business travelers by giving them cheap travel insurance. By leaving the EU, the cost of travel insurance will increase. Nonetheless, the UK might be able to renegotiate new deals with the countries within the EU.
As the UK embarks on the process of leaving the European Union there are many uncertainties. Many companies and businesses will have to review their travel plans. Reviewing this policy will be important so that all employees can understand the requirements and their entitlements.
*Prices based on 1 adult aged over 18 with no pre-existing medical conditions, travelling to Europe inc Spain/Cyprus/Malta/Turkey or Greece for 7 days. Price correct as of April 2019.
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