BREXIT might have raised some concerns but it hasn’t affected Cumbrians’ desire to travel.
Despite March 29 growing ever closer and a vital vote in the Commons looming, local travel firms haven’t seen a drastic shift in the way customers are booking their getaways.
Today, MPs will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Theresa May has been negotiating with the European Union for the past two years.
Paul Cusack, owner of Cockermouth Travel, on Main Street, said people still want to travel but he has noticed a later booking market ahead of the UK’s expected departure from the European Union.
“At this time of year it is traditionally a quiet time for people actually going on holiday but it is a busy time for people booking holidays. I think we have seen a downturn in that, in that people are a bit concerned and also there is a huge amount of disinformation out there about it,” he said.
“I don’t think the actual places have changed dramatically. The old favourites are still popular – Spain, Portugal and Greece. Turkey seems to have had a bit of an upturn because its such good value and the pound is really strong against the Turkish Lira.”
He added that traditional destinations like Florida, other places in America and Canada and far east cruises also continue to sell well.
Mr Cusack has worked in the travel industry for 40 years and says there can be lots of things that affect when people book holidays, with everything from a summer heatwave and big sporting events keeping people at home to weather events and terrorism deterring holidaymakers.
“People will still travel but instead of booking in March they will wait until all of the rubbish is sorted out around Brexit,” he said.
“The only thing I’m concerned about is the length of time it has taken to sort it out. If it had been a crystal clear break and we knew exactly what was happening it would be better.
“I’m not worried because what you loose on the swings you get back on the roundabouts.”
Travel agents have had lots of questions about how Brexit will affect different aspects of travel.
Liz Beaty, director of The Travel Team, in Brampton, said: “Demand is still there and people are still wanting to go away.
“They are asking questions about passports and whether it affects insurance and health cards and things like that but people are still wanting to go on holiday.”
She said Europe is still as popular as it always has been and that places like Tunisia and Turkey were growing in popularity, not because of Brexit but because of their value for money and the consumers’ growing confidence to go to different destinations.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said there has been some reassurances around flights and visas, despite the on-going political process.
Holidays should largely go ahead as planned as there will be a two-year transition period if the EU and the UK government reach a deal. Even in a no-deal scenario, flights from the UK are expected to operate as normal.
Passports don’t generally need to be renewed before March 29 but the UK government recommends having an additional six months validity on the date of arrival in an EU country.
The European Commission has said that event in the event of a no-deal British holidaymakers can still travel to the EU without a visa. Going forward though, this may be a long-term possibility.
ABTA says that in the event of a no-deal, European Health Insurance Cards will no longer be valid but recommends travellers take out travel insurance ahead of any trip, regardless of where they are travelling to.