Brexit: Bookings to Europe lose steam

LONDON, 5 February 2020: Th growth rate in the UK’s outbound travel bookings to Europe is likely to slow this year following the country’s exit from the EU celebrated with fireworks and an enthusiastic countdown 31 January.

A recent study by ForwardKeys, which analyses global aviation capacity, flight searches and over 17 million flight booking transactions a day, shows that the growth in travel from the UK to Europe has declined since the  UK’s referendum in 2016. Travel from the UK to other regions recorded positive growth.

There has been a similar reciprocal trend in the opposite direction amongst travellers from the EU, where the growth in travel to the UK  slowed, and growth in travel to other parts of the world picked up.

Looking at the growth in UK travel to EU destinations, it has declined progressively since the UK’s referendum decision to leave the EU in June 2016. 

In 2017 travel to the EU grew by 7.7%; in 2018, it grew by 0.6%, and in 2019, it fell back by 1.2%. 

In contrast, travel to non-EU destinations grew by 3% in the latter part of 2016, by 3.2% in 2017, by 5% in 2018 and by 0.1% in 2019.

An analysis of outbound travel from the EU shows that the UK has declined in relative popularity, as travel to the rest of the world has grown more strongly than travel to the UK since 2017.

In 2017, EU travel to the UK grew by 6.6% and to the rest of the world by 4.6%. In 2018, EU travel to the UK fell by 1.2%, but it grew by 8.9% to the rest of the world, and in 2019, travel to the UK grew by 2.4%, but it grew by 4.8% to the rest of the world.

 ForwardKeys VP Insights Olivier Ponti commented: “Whilst this looks like a story of the EU and the UK beginning to tread their separate paths post Brexit, with UK and EU travellers both more excited to travel further afield than to visit each other, I suspect there are other crucial trends at play. “First, is the fall in the value of the pound immediately after the referendum, which made the EU more expensive for Brits.

Second is the recovery from terrorist attacks of three major holiday markets, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, which have won back UK holidaymakers that deserted them after a spate of violence in 2015.”

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