November 29, 2023

Tourism Matters: What does this have to do with Barbados?

By Adrian Loveridge From Caribbean News Now

While it is very tempting to second guess the possible effects of the now declared Brexit, I think our tourism planners have to be fully cognizant over the implications it may bring.

In a recent TravelMole article under the alarming headline “UK airlines told to move to EU (European Union) or be forced to axe services”, quoting the British Guardian newspaper, has warned that major UK-based airlines will have to relocate their significant base to EU territory or ensure that majority of their shares are EU owned to enable them to continue operating routes within Europe.

Some of these airlines, like EasyJet, have already started to look at ways of obtaining an EU operating certificate, including setting up separate operating companies within continental Europe.

According to an EasyJet spokesperson, the exact location from an already researched shortlist will be announced before the end of this month.

What if anything does this have to do with Barbados, you may ask?

As a major Caribbean destination we already have very limited airlift out of Continental Europe, namely just Condor from Frankfurt and the new weekly service from Munich. To reach the vast population of the EU we largely rely on feeding passengers through Gatwick with year round Virgin and British Airways flights and to a lesser extent Virgin and the seasonal winter service of Thomas Cook from Manchester. The new weekly Thomas Cook flight from Gatwick starting this winter will also add possibilities.

Once Brexit takes place, the remaining 27 member states will have a combined population of around 433 million.

In a statement issued by Olivier Jankovec, European secretary general of Airports Council International (ACI), he expressed concerns about ongoing uncertainty over the rules that will govern aviation between the UK and EU now that article 50 has been triggered.

He went on to emphasise, “This implies that the aviation industry will be left in the dark for many more months to come about what will happen. Unless quickly resolved, this uncertainty will end up constraining route network development for airports, ultimately affecting air connectivity for their communities. This is due to the fact that airline route planning requires both long lead times and legal certainty.”

So in the near future this could well negatively impact the ability of driving more European visitors to our shores.

The other unknown is what will happen to Scotland. Having voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the European Union, following the incredibly close call on whether to stay part of the United Kingdom in the last independence referendum, will they opt to join the EU in their own right?

This in itself could make a huge difference to destinations within the region and with this quite a possibility perhaps why we should be lobbying harder for an airline like Norwegian Airways, British Airways, Virgin and Thomas Cook to have a major Scottish hub to take full advantage of European feed?

The other area of concern is the EU261 law relating to passenger compensation for flights delayed over three hours or more. Currently all EU airlines have to pay agreed refunds subject to certain conditions. As the UK or maybe just parts on the union exit the EU, will these reasonably generous payments continue?

If they do not, there will be a huge incentive for air travellers to switch their allegiance to EU and/or registered carriers.

IMAGE: Adrian Loveridge has spent 46 years in the tourism industry across 67 countries, as a travel agent, tour director, tour operator and for the last 24 years as a small hotel owner on Barbados. He served as a director of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, and as chairman of the Marketing Committee. He also served as a director of the Barbados Tourism Authority and is a frequent writer on tourism

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