British Prime Minister Theresa May has set a timetable for Britain’s separation from the European Union, according to the New York Times. Negotiations for what she calls a “ hard Brexit ” will begin in March next year, and she plans to have Britain completely independent of the E.U. by the spring of 2019.
With years to go before May’s hoped-for clean break, tourists from the U.K. and abroad find the future of travel to Europe uncertain. Here’s what reporters in the U.S. and U.K. have to say about Brexit’s effect on tourism to and from the United Kingdom.
TOURISTS GOING TO THE U.K.: Cheaper, for now.
According to The Guardian, the pound decreased in value against foreign currencies in the wake of June’s Brexit referendum, which made it an ideal time for travel to Britain. Britain’s Office of National Statistics cited a 1.4% boost in retail spending in July from the June numbers, which The Guardian credited to a post-Brexit tourism boost. Current rates reported by Pound Sterling Live say the slump continues. So, if you’re a non-Brit interested in visiting the U.K., exchange rates are still in your favor.
The New York Times reported back in June that Americans won’t have to worry about changing border policy post-Brexit. A passport is still sufficient to gain entry. Things may not be so simple, however, for Britons or their counterparts-for-now in the E.U.
TOURISTS LEAVING THE U.K.: Who knows?
Simon Calder of the Independent opened an article last June by saying Britons’ “most intense engagement with Europe” is when they vacation there. Indeed, the U.K.’s exit from the E.U., when implemented, may change travel plans drastically for its citizens.
Brexit’s present effects, Calder reported, focus on the sliding value of the pound, which benefits international tourists but hurts British travelers. They will have worse exchange rates when traveling to the Eurozone and other places where the currency shifts in proportion U.S. dollar.
What changes travel policy will undergo are still uncertain until Brexit negotiations are complete. However, Calder floated some possible consequences. For example, open E.U. flight regulations may be curtailed, making travel more expensive.
Nick Trend of the Telegraph also asked some foreboding questions about the future of British travelers in Europe. Will British citizens need visas to visit continental Europe? Will Britain keep or scrap certain helpful E.U. travel provisions, like the one giving British travelers the opportunity to get reduced cost or free healthcare in fellow E.U. nations?
Some aspects of travel, however, will not be affected by Brexit. According to USA Today’s travel tips, Britain has always been outside the Schengen Area, the passport-free zone that allows certain E.U. countries to cross borders without flashing a passport. Citizens of the U.K. have always needed a passport to cross European borders, so, as Calder of the Independent concluded, that won’t be affected by Brexit.
So, in summary, all we know right now has to do with what we can observe right now. The pound isn’t doing well against the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies, making travel more affordable for tourists from outside the U.K. but more expensive for Britons. As for anything that happens afterwards, that’s up to the negotiations due to start this spring.