Travel association ABTA has set out its priorities for the Brexit negotiations following the triggering of Article 50.
Visa-free travel and freedom to travel are among its main areas of focus.
In a report, Making a Success of Brexit for Travel and Tourism, ABTA outlines its priorities and opportunities for the travel industry and UK travellers that it’s asking the government to focus on as formal negotiations begin.
ABTA said the EU is an “extremely important” market for UK domestic and outbound travel and tourism businesses.
“It is essential that the travel industry can continue to prosper post-Brexit and that holidaymakers and business travellers can continue to travel freely and enjoy the important benefits currently open to them,” the organisation said.
The five central points it’s calling on the government to focus on during the negotiations:
1. Maintain our ability to travel freely within Europe and beyond
2. Keep visa-free travel between the UK and the EU
3. Protect valuable consumer rights
4. Give UK businesses operational stability
5. Seize opportunities for growth
“The UK’s membership of the EU has given travellers many highly beneficial rights and protections, including visa-free travel and access to free or reduced cost healthcare via the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which was used over 215,000 times in 2015 by UK citizens,” said ABTA.
“Compensation for delayed and cancelled flights and the EU Package Travel Directive, which protects people on package holidays, are also valuable consumer rights, which ABTA urges the Government to protect.”
ABTA also spoke out on the importance of safeguarding transport links, calling air routes vital. “Unlike for other industries there are no World Trade Organisation rules for aviation to fall back on if we do not reach a deal with the EU.”
Mark Tanzer, ABTA CEO added: “As the UK begins to extricate itself from the European Union, we want to work with the Government to help them make Brexit a success. We believe that the benefits that UK holidaymakers currently enjoy, such as visa-free travel and the EHIC card should be prioritised and protected.
“The Government must also make sure transition agreements are in place if needed. Travel and tourism is one of the UK’s largest industries and it is vital that the Government makes sure it can continue to thrive during and after the negotiations.”