“We still don’t know what the hell is happening”

CEO of the European Tour Operators Association, Tom Jenkins, was at ITB Berlin Convention on the “Brexit: Great Britain Tourism at a Crossroads” panel on Wednesday. He spoke to ITB Berlin News ahead of the session

Tom Jenkins is the CEO of the European Tourism Association (ETOA), representing some 1,200 tour operators and suppliers from over 50 countries and whose purpose is “to promote a fair business environment for European tourism”. Not easy in the face of Brexit – which could have “massive repercussions” if it goes ahead with no deal between the UK and Europe.


“We still don’t know what the hell is happening,” Jenkins said. “Even the UK Prime Minister doesn’t know.”
There are three likely outcomes. One: Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal is accepted by Parliament and the status quo remains while long-term negotiations take place. Two: there’s a “hard Brexit” with no deal; and three: there’s a delay. “A delay is most likely, because it’s less politically damaging than no-deal, and more plausible than Parliament agreeing on a deal.” No-deal would have the most traumatic impact, “for example on supplies of food and industrial components into the UK”.

And for tourism, “the implications are striking. If the UK leaves the EU, UK citizens will no longer be EU citizens,” Jenkins said. “This means UK nationals won’t be able to use the EU immigration lanes; their passports will have to be checked against a security database, and they will have to explain their purpose of travel, length of stay and how they intend to fund it.” This would take an average of 90 seconds per person. “That’s fine if you’re first or second in the queue, but if there are 200 British trying to pass through passport control, that becomes five hours of delay.”

This “may not be catastrophic, but UK tourism could only survive by relying on the leniency of EU member states”, Jenkins said. “And that’s not taking back control”

Photo: Tom Jenkins ETOA CEO