In 2015, U.K. residents made 37 million holiday and business trips to countries within Europe. © AFP
WVN – The British travel industry is appealing to the government to maintain visa-free travel between the U.K. and the rest of Europe, and to protect British holidaymakers’ rights to health insurance and free mobile roaming fees during Brexit negotiations.
On Tuesday, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) released a report titled “Making a success of Brexit for travel and tourism,” outlining a set of priorities the group sees as essential for the travel industry’s post-Brexit prosperity.
Given that the EU is the U.K.’s biggest market for overseas holidays, ABTA is asking the government to maintain visa-free travel to countries within the EU.
In 2015, U.K. residents made 37 million holiday and business trips to countries within Europe.
Conversely, 16 million EU residents also made more than 16 million trips to the U.K.
“While immigration is a contentious issue, securing visa-free travel for holidays and short business trips should be the goal of the government,” reads the report.
“It is important that we maintain fast and efficient processes through our airports and ports and avoid lengthy queues to enable EU nationals to easily visit us, and U.K. visitors to travel to the EU.”
The group is also urging the government to safeguard consumer travel rights that all European citizens enjoy, including access to free or reduced cost healthcare via the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which was used more than 215,000 times in 2015 by U.K. citizens.
As part of EU membership, travellers are likewise entitled to compensation for delayed and canceled flights, while the EU Package Travel Directive protects people on package holidays.
“ABTA urges the government to secure the U.K.’s continued participation in the EHIC scheme, which guarantees U.K. travellers reciprocal access to healthcare systems across Europe.”
The group is also asking that Britons be able to take advantage of the abolition of roaming fees in Europe that will be effective June 2017.
“The government must replicate this EU-level agreement to ensure that British and EU customers continue to benefit from the abolition of these additional charges.”