Brexit really is the question on everybody's lips: Will I be affected by Brexit? How will I be affected? When will I be affected? As a disclaimer, a lot of points in the negotiations are still in flux and so this post will include a fair amount of educated speculation about how life will be after Brexit for school trips.
Adaptable Travel are ABTA members, and as such we look for guidance from ABTA in cases such as Brexit as they work on our behalf to lobby the government and ensure travel companies such as ourselves, and therefore you, the customer is supported. However, we have sumarised the current situation below taking into consideration some questions we have received from group leaders.
The UK government has set out its red lines for negotiations but negotiations are ongoing and which way it will go is very much up in the air. While stressing a strong preference for a deal to be agreed, the UK government in August 2018 published the first batch of technical notices to prepare UK businesses and citizens for the possibility of a no-deal exit from the EU. At the minute we are set to leave the EU on 31 March 2019. Importantly even in the event of a ‘no-deal’ scenario. there is a transition deal which is currently set to end on 31 December 2020, however, there has been speculation that this may run until 2026. Once we have the White Paper we'll know more about where we might eventually end up but for now we can look at the impact a few of the more likely scenarios might have on school trips. But in short, immediately after 31 March 2019 (Brexit d-day) there will lbe little impact in terms travel into the EU on school trips. Planes will continue to fly, boats will sail and visas are not likely to be required, the transition period until end of 2020 (or potentially beyond) protects you and your students against these issues.
The UK currently offers visa free travel to nationals of 56 countries from Andorra to the USA and UK nationals can currently travel to 86 countries around the world from Anguilla to Venezuela without the need for a visa. Obviously, if we leave the EU without a deal, this list could get a lot shorter. However, the good news is, for any school trips that will take students outside the EU, there shouldn't be too much difference in travel arrangements. Here at Adaptable Travel we offer a range of EU school trips and non-EU school trips too, to destinations such as the USA, China, Japan etc.
When it comes to travelling within the EU after we leave, as we said before, it all comes down to the kind of deal that Theresa May strikes with the EU. For the purposes of this article we'll assume that the UK has left with no deal as that is one of the official government positions. So, it's 1 January 2020, the transition period is over and Britain is officially a third country to the EU. One of the immediately noticeable things when going on a school trip will be the time that it could take to travel to any EU country. One estimate has shown that if customs checks are put in place for all commercial goods leaving the UK at the Port of Dover and these checks take an average of 4 minutes per vehicle, then the queues will be tailing back all the way to the M25. Similarly we could see long lines at UK/EU airports, the speed that we pass through immigration control will very much depend on what kind of reciprocal system is agreed. Similarly there has been talk of requiring UK citizens to buy a visa before travelling to the EU such as the ESTA that is currently required to travel to the USA. However, it is important to stress at this stage, this is speculation and worst-case scenarios.
As we all saw on the day after the Brexit vote the pound went from around 1.3 euros to the pound to 1.11 euros to the pound at the time of writing - that’s a drop of 17%. Obviously what this means in real terms is that you're getting less bang for your buck when you travel to Europe. However, it's not all doom and gloom. Sterling has been stable for a while now and with a further interest rate rise on the horizon for later this year it has potential help to drive up the value of the pound, or the very least stabalise it, and no ‘expert’ is expecting a collapse in sterling - it remains a global currency.
We hope that this has given a quick overview of some of the potential areas of impact when the UK finally does leave the EU. However, whatever the relationship with the EU is in a few years, here at Adaptable Travel we will continue to offer a great selection of school trips covering a range of subjects and destinations; that’s something that you can always rely on! However, the latest news from Downing Street is that the UK is looking to maintain some sort of arrangement that looks similar to the Single Market. If this is the case then we won't see too much change at all in the relationship between us and the EU and as always school trips to EU countries organised by Adaptable Travel will continue to go off without a hitch. In the event of a no-deal scenario, there will still be a transition period until 2020. Beyond that not one party can give a definitive answer as to what will happen however we will of course keep abreast of the situation on behalf of all group leaders.
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