Britains are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect that leaving the EU will have on their ski holiday. It seems certain that once Britain invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty -which has never been used before- travelling to, working in and doing business with the EU skiresorts will have severe implications.
Britain and the EU will face a complex negotiation process which may last up-to two years. Although the talks will center on the Brexit, it is very unlikely that Britain will get a preferential treatment or a ‘bargain’ deal. The regulations and negotiations will be a nightmare to sort out -the process requires the UK to unpick some 80k pages of laws binding the UK to the EU-, but the scariest part right now is the uncertainty. The only thing that is clear at the moment is that the British ski industry will not be able to stay on safe groomed terrain for quite a while.
The most pregnant result of uncertainty is the selling-off of the Sterling after the Leave-camp(aign) had won the referendum. The Sterling hit a historic 31-year low. All things being equal, Britons skiing in Europe will find it about 15 per cent more expensive than a year ago. Investment banks Goldman Sachs and HSBC predict that the Sterling could be hit by as much as 20 per cent, effectively raising cost with 25 to 28 per cent. Few analysts expect the Sterling to recover its Brexit losses for a while. In addition, some say that an end to the reciprocal EU VAT agreement after Brexit would push up prices even further.
As most British operators will have bought their currency for next winter season before the vote, Brexit shouldn’t have much of an impact on 2016/17 package prices. That being said, the Brexit will raise cost for every expense in the EU after the vote where Sterling become Euros. Whether directly, like your lift pass costing more, or indirectly, like the cost of your holiday going up because your Apfelstrudel and Weizenbier are listed in Euros.
To complicate matters further, several tourists have reported that European hotels are now refusing to accept or exchange Sterling, as it is surrounded by some much uncertainty at the moment. In other cases European companies in the tourist sector ask Britons to pay a supplement due to the currency fluctuations.
It is not just the British tourists who will have to face the consequences of the Brexit; the ski industry will face mayor challenges too as all of the costs are in Euros and all of the revenue is in Sterling. A fall in the value of Sterling will have a massive impact on prices and competition.
Freedom of Movement
Although passport controls are retained in the UK -because it sits outside of the Schengen area-, UK tourists are able to travel freely within most of Continental Europe. The requirements for UK-EU travel after the Brexit would depend on the settlement reached. The EU would unlikely try to restrict British people entering the region for a holiday. British citizens will therefore most likely not need visas to travel into the EU on holiday.
The ‘open skies’ agreement in the EU has resulted in more routes, more airlines, and lower airfares. The huge success of the no-frills airlines and the impact they have made on reducing fares and opening up new routes was enabled by the EU’s removal of the old bi-lateral restrictions and the introduction of more open competition on routes between Union countries. Now that Britain is leaving the EU, arrangements will have to be made for new air service agreements if British airlines like Monarch Airways and EasyJet are to continue operate freely all over the EU, and foreign airlines, like Ryanair or German Wings, are to continue to fly in and out of the UK without restrictions. Britain pulling away from the EU might seriously affect the price of UK flights to Europe. It will also mean the UK are less entitled to airspace meaning there would be fewer scheduled UK flights.
In addition, the remarkably high levels of compensation that passengers are entitled to under the EU directive on flight delays and cancellations are under siege. Current EU passenger rights regulations mean that consumers not only have the right to ‘compensation’ if their flights are delayed or cancelled but also to care and assistance such as food and drink and overnight accommodation. These rights would be removed unless the UK government takes steps to replicate these in UK law.
The EU has recently introduced caps for mobile phone roaming charges, harmonising the maximum charges applicable to consumers for using their phones in other EU countries, and will extend this to a complete ban on additional roaming fees in April 2017. The law applying these rules will be removed now for Britons as a result of the Brexit. It is expected that leading communications companies like Vodafone and BT will treat Britons as EU-members price-wise.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles UK citizens to free or reduced-cost treatment in other EU countries. It doesn’t have the same benefits as travel insurance, but if you have one, many travel insurance policies will waive the excess payment on a claim. Now the agreement will have to be renegotiated and the continuation of the current arrangements for Britons, will no doubt depend on the UK allowing EU citizens equivalent access to our it’s health service. Without a renegotiated agreement, Britons would be required to take out private insurance before they travel in order to ensure they have sufficient coverage
EU membership has enabled Britons to work in ski resorts without a work permit. As a direct consequence of the Article 50 procedure British operators could no longer legally employ British nationals in EU ski resorts. Instead operators will have to recruit from European countries, potentially having to pay them more, which, of course, will add even more to your ski trip. Whether, a complete ban will be enforced remains to be seen. Still, in case of a more lenient approach the cost of employing British staff in the EU will rise for all kinds of reasons. Including rising costs to insure them, compliancy to minimum-wage standards and the possibility of work permit arrangements from the host country. It is clear that the past priviliges for working in ski resorts will become severly restricted at least.
Uncertainty about the legal position of British staff, allowed length of stay and direct and indirect employment cost means that operators will probably shed a substantial part of it’s British staff and completely re-think their business model.
Uncertainty is detrimental to any business sector, but the tourist sector in particular. Despite the constant talk of what would and would not happen if Britons vote to leave or stay in the EU, people are clearly still confused as to what either decision would mean for their holiday plans.
It is in the interest of both the UK and EU to limit barriers and cost for tourists. It would be unthinkable that the EU will do much damage to the ski industry and tourist sector after the damage done by imposing (old-school) santions on Russia.
For British citizen the Brexit means that they cannot avoid substantial additional cost for a ski trip. However, it is possible to keep the charges to a minimum by becoming less reliable on the comfortable all-inclusive packages from British operators and ‘local’ holiday services. Book your hotel directly from hotel owners (choose family hotels instead of large chain-brand hotels or int. tour operators), travel by train or car, do less but longer trips, buy your ski equipment now and wait with any other payments untill the markets have settled and negotiations between UK-EU are well on their way.
Keep calm and carry on skiing!