What is Brexit?
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last couple of years (and if you have been, please let me know where) you will probably have heard of Brexit. For those of you that haven’t or if you would like a brief refresher, it essentially means Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. There are many consequences of the Brit’s decision to leave the EU and many of these are yet to be realised. All we know for certain is that the UK should make its break from Europe by 29th March 2019.
I want to avoid getting into too much conversation about whether Brexit was the right decision for Britain in this article. If you know me personally, chances are you will already know my opinions on this and if you are desperate to find out and have a chat about it, feel free to sling me over an email. The important thing is that we know Britain is leaving the European Union and this has consequences, not only for British citizens but others worldwide.
What will Brexit mean for travellers?
Put simply, it is too soon to answer this question conclusively. The Brexit negotiations are still ongoing and as of yet, very little has been finalised about what will change after Britain exits the European Union. If you are looking to read into Brexit in more detail (sadly the whole thing is pretty complex), check out the BBC’s comprehensive guide.
All existing British passports will continue to be valid for use but from October 2019 any new or renewed passports with be blue in colour, instead of the current burgundy. Somewhat ironically it appears that these new blue passports may need to be manufactured in Europe owing to competitive pricing.
European Health Insurance Card
The European Health Insurance Card entitles the bearer to any necessary medical treatment on the same basis as the local population whilst travelling through EU member states. The British government are hoping to retain access to an EHIC card for their citizens after Brexit but this is yet to be confirmed.
Will travelling to the EU require visas?
The UK government has said that they wish to keep travel to the UK visa-free for European citizens and they are hopeful that EU officials will extend the same hospitality to British citizens. In an ideal world, freedom to travel will be preserved, however, the introduction of visas to pass EU borders is a very real possibility.
What will this mean for visitors to the UK?
In the short term, it appears that the decrease in the value of the pound will make the UK a more affordable destination for visitors from overseas. This could see an increase in travellers which may boost tourism in the country.
What does this mean for UK travellers?
Potentially, owing to the fluctuation in currency, British money will lose some of its value, meaning holidays overseas will become more expensive for those living in the UK. There is some speculation that the drop in the value of the pound may cause fewer Brits to holiday in Europe but popular destinations such as Alicante have already hinted they may reduce their prices to sustain tourism.
As with all Brexit predictions, no-one is yet sure of the scale of disruption that will follow when the UK finally exits the European Union. There are a couple of concerning factors which could impact travellers though. One of them is possible flight disruption as the UK may be forced to leave the Single European Sky Initiative. This agreement is founded on cooperation between member states to minimise costs and delays, whilst making services as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Another consequence of Brexit could be the increase in overseas data roaming charges. The current government has pledged to leave the ‘digital single market’ which means that the agreement which caps hefty roaming charges may no longer apply to British citizens.
Why does this make travel so important?
Very recently, I was lucky enough to stay at a Catholic Albergue (Pilgrim hostel) during my hike along the Camino de Santiago. After supper, the pilgrims, volunteers and three sisters of the church all sat discussing our different reasons for deciding to do the Camino. Knowing that I had to reveal my motives to a bunch of strangers, I fumbled through ideas desperately as I tried to work out how I was going to answer without sounding too cheesy.
In truth, my reason for doing the Camino de Santiago, other than for the physical challenge, is the same as my motive for all travel. I want to continue to learn and connect with different people, all over the world. Being a British citizen in the wake of Brexit has definitely made me realise just how important this is. I am from a tiny island, with no direct neighbours. The changes that Brexit may potentially have, could make travel more challenging for those of us wanting to leave the UK and also those of us wanting to enter it. In the current climate which is fraught with division, I travel because I don’t want to be live in a world that is isolated and alone. Travel is the best weapon in our armoury for creating a united planet and enhancing our understanding of our peers.
Okay, so it turns out it was a really cheesy answer. However, there is no doubt that concern regarding Brexit is rife and not limited to only British citizens. In generation Brexit, we are all going to be faced with challenges which at this stage are largely unknown. All we can do in this face of this uncertainty is to support each other and continue to learn, regardless of the barriers and obstacles in our way.
Should we be concerned about the impact of Brexit?
I think we should be aware of the Brexit effect and mindful of how it impacts both ourselves and others. Hopefully, if we strive to stay connected, it doesn’t have to be the dividing force that it threatens to be. In answer to the question of whether we should be concerned about the effects of Brexit, I think that would be a waste of energy. This is not to say that the things I read about the direction of Britain’s future don’t worry me (most things do) but realistically, we’re all passengers and we’ll have to meet the destination when we get there.
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