When EU membership, originally sought by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, began to look like it would be forged through contentious negotiations in 2005, tourism was not considered the main area of concern for the British public.
That isn’t how things ended up, of course, though the worst effects of the Brexit vote could come from the impact on the tourism industry — Britain currently accounts for about 1 percent of the continent’s tourism spend, generating close to 23 billion pounds annually.
New figures provided by the UK’s National Audit Office show that tourism officials are already sweating over a potential loss of business. Nearly 5.4 million more tourists went to Britain last year, bringing with them a total of 45.7 million overnight stays. But officials fear it could all turn to dust unless the Government tightens up its border checks.
Under previous travel guidelines, tourism operators had been allowed to hand out free stowaways to tourists without incurring extra costs to the Government — a practice that the NAAO says has been cut back due to Brexit. Travel firms say that this has already cost them an estimated 20 million pounds in lost revenue, since the EU scheme is set to be scrapped.
Domestic tourism spending grew by 1.3 percent to 3.5 billion pounds in 2017, and figures suggest that this year may be even better. But the NAAO warns that this may not last because the Government has “already signaled its intentions to impose a 15 percent tariff on the arrival of air passengers from the EU.”