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WTM London 2021: Full impact of Brexit still to come

WTM London 2021: Full impact of Brexit still to come

The full impact of Brexit on the global travel industry has not yet been felt, reveals research released today by WTM London.

Some 700 senior professionals from around globe contributed to the WTM Industry Report, and were asked whether their business had felt any specific Brexit-related pressures, so far.

Almost half (45 per cent) said they hadn’t noticed any difference in 2021 because of Brexit.

Of those who acknowledged a Brexit effect, the response was overwhelmingly net negative.

Only eight per cent noted a positive impact compared with 24 per cent highlighting a negative.

The balance, representing one-in-four (23 per cent) of the industry, were unsure or did not know the extent to which Brexit was a factor in their 2021 performance.

The UK officially left the European Union, with a trade deal, at the end of 2020.

The UK/EU trade deal has already resulted in some regulatory changes that will impact inbound and outbound travel between the UK and the remaining member states. 

Many of the UK’s biggest mobile phone operators have announced the end of surcharge-free roaming for travellers, as was required by law when the UK was part of the EU.


This change will add to the cost of a trip for many and damage the in-destination experience for some.

Potential issues around passport expiry dates, driving licences, insurance, staffing levels at resorts, immigration lines at airports, and more, are likely to persist into next year, alongside the issues related to Covid-19.

There will also be a combined Brexit/Covid impact on businesses as well as consumers. Recruiting staff will be different, while the complexities remain around cross-border tax, refunds, fulfilment and accounting.

Simon Press, exhibition director, WTM London, said: “To some extent, the industry so far has dodged the Brexit bullet because the Covid crisis overshadowed and dominated what would have been the first peak holiday season of the Brexit era.

“But as Covid restrictions start to ease, Brexit-related concerns around visas, financial protections, security, duty-free allowances, health cover and so on will come to the fore once more.

“These changes will need to be considered – and applied – in the context of the post-Covid travel landscape.

“The industry needs to get ready for Brexit again, in terms of not only our own business operations but also how we let customers know about the new requirements.

“WTM London helped businesses prepare the first time around and will continue to offer insights and education as Brexit reasserts itself into the travel conversation.”