Current Affairs

Brexit could cost UK tourism industry £4.1bn a year, claims study

A vote to leave the European Union (EU) could cost the UK’s tourism industry as much as £4.1bn a year in international tourism spending alone, new research has claimed.

According to new research published today by travel deals company Travelzoo, a third of travellers from Italy (33%), Spain (33%) and Germany (30%) – and a quarter from France (24%) – say they would be less inclined to travel to the UK in the event of a leave vote.

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The survey found four in 10 respondents from EU countries also worry that Brexit could make UK holidays more expensive.

Sentiment among the four largest EU nations (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) is that the UK should stay in the EU, with just under 70% of respondents in the remain camp.

Despite this, respondents from some countries – notably France – believe that leaving the EU could make the UK a safer destination for holidays.

While almost 75% of the UK’s international visitors come from within the EU, even respondents from further afield (10% of those from Canada and 12% from the US) stated they would be less likely to visit a post-Brexit UK.

Holidays for British tourists in Europe, meanwhile, could become more expensive if the sentiment expressed in France and Spain becomes more widespread. Some 40% of respondents from these countries feel it would be fair to impose higher fees, such as a hiked city tax, on British visitors if the UK votes to leave.

Meanwhile, over a quarter (28%) of British tourists are concerned that withdrawal from the EU could lead to more expensive holidays for them, while 56% are worried that Brexit would reduce the ease and flexibility with which they can currently travel inside the EU.

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Other UK tourist concerns include:

  • The price of holiday insurance – 25% are worried that the price of holiday insurance would go up, and 20% worry that their holiday protection cover would be impacted if they were no longer entitled to a European Health Insurance Card
  • The cost of mobile roaming – 24% are concerned that roaming charges will increase if Britain is no longer governed by European Union roaming regulations
  • The impact for UK beaches – 22% worry that UK beaches could become more polluted without strict regulations enforced by the EU


John Fletcher, pro vice-chancellor at Bournemouth University, said: “Although the impact of Brexit on tourism is a difficult one to predict, given that France, Germany, Italy and Spain make up four of the UK’s top seven tourist-supplying countries – accounting for more than 11 million international visitors annually – it’s likely that the net result of Brexit will be significantly negative for the UK economy.

“While the figures above reflect only the direct tourism-related economic impacts of voting to leave the EU, if tourist spending from overseas visitors did indeed fall by £4.1bn per year, this is likely to reduce HMRC revenue by more than £1.1bn and reduce support for around 63,000 jobs in the UK.”

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Other key findings:

  • The Travelzoo survey of 3,050 British people indicates 46% believe the UK should stay in the EU, while 40% believe it’s time to leave – 14% remain unsure
  • 10% of British people admit they have taken the impact of Brexit into consideration when planning their holiday
  • For those in favour of an independent UK, 61% said they’d be willing to pay more for their holidays


Travelzoo’s research was made up of two surveys – a questionnaire was completed by 4,950 Travelzoo members across France, Spain, Germany, the US and Canada, and research from Atomik Research surveying 2,004 consumers in the UK and 1,003 consumers in Italy – along with tourist spending figures which were calculated by Bournemouth University.

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