Brexit travel insurance hike could leave holidaymakers out of pocket
Professor John Lennon, director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University, warned the days of cheap travel insurance could be over, with tourists left paying more to cover flight delays and medical repatriation costs.
More than 29 million Britons holiday in EU countries every year, accounting for 76 per cent of the outbound travel market. Around 17 million book package holidays, but industry insiders believe cut-price offers could disappear.
Flights could also face significant disruption as UK negotiators face the “colossal” task of securing new air access agreements to destinations worldwide.
Prof Lennon said: “People see holidays as a primary purchase. They will still go on holiday, but it’s going to get more expensive.
“Almost all major UK outbound destinations are more expensive, with the exception of Turkey. The cost of flying, travel insurance and data roaming charges are likely to rise post-Brexit. Travellers will also face increased costs for food, beverages and accommodation because of the weakness of Sterling.”
All flights to European Union countries, the US and Canada are through negotiated deals with the EU and there is growing concern about the impact of Brexit on UK airlines.
Prof Lennon said: “As the UK leaves the EU, the potential for far worse access agreements could seriously damage the flying rights of UK airlines.
“The scale of the negotiating task that faces the British government is colossal. There are more than 60 air access agreements to be renegotiated.”
Industry experts have previously raised concerns over the future of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which offers free emergency medical cover in the EU.
The EHIC allows Britons to receive free or reduced healthcare while in the EU. The UK has issued 27 million EHICs. A House of Lords report in March warned a no-deal Brexit would end the EHIC. “In the absence of an agreement on future relations that covers this topic, the rights currently enjoyed by 27 million UK citizens, thanks to the EHIC, will cease after Brexit,” the report said.
Prof Lennon said: “The travel industry is just like any other business. Its customers hate uncertainty. If things like access, charges and insurance cover are uncertain, it will impact on travel patterns.”
The Moffat Centre is responsible for compiling the Scottish accommodation occupancy and visitor attraction performance statistics.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “This analysis is misleading. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that tourism continues to thrive when the UK leaves the European Union.
“Our White Paper clearly sets out that the UK’s position is to seek reciprocal visa-free travel arrangements, a comprehensive agreement on air transport ... and for UK and EU nationals to continue to be able to use the European Health Insurance Card.”