How holidays and travel are changing beyond recognition
Around two years ago the word Brexit didn't exist, but now hardly a day goes past when most of us don't say or see it as part of our everyday lives. As the implications are slowly starting to reveal themselves, we can now see the effect this period of European uncertainty is having on holidaymakers.
One big effect has been the impact on the currency market and now our pound is worth less when we visit European countries such as Spain, France and Italy. However, this has had the reverse effect for non-EU countries leading to some of them benefiting greatly from a rise in visitors from these shores.
Poland is a case in point with both Krakow and Gdansk reporting a huge increase in Northern Irish visitors. Ryanair has been quick to jump on this bandwagon by increasing flights to these Polish destinations from Belfast; indeed we regularly book a four-night break in either for as little as £159 per person.
Bulgaria is also seeing resurgence in visits from local travellers. In the winter we saw it as Northern Ireland's number one ski destination, while in the summer months its fantastic beaches, water parks and cheap eateries have helped propel it up the popularity ratings.
So what has been the impact on the traditional holiday resorts/destinations and what are they doing to fight back? Our number one destination in Europe is still Spain - however, the trend towards an 'all inclusive' holiday has increased. This has meant that local Spanish bars/restaurants have had to fight even harder for our euro.
Hospitality is not the only sector affected. There are other further reaching implications such as:
l Higher mobile phone charges: EU regulations have helped contain roaming charges recently. This may well change.
l Higher health care charges: the E111 will no longer be valid and there will be an increase in travel insurance prices.
l The end of flight delay compensation: the EU has been tough on its implementation of this directive with airlines paying up to £400 per person when found to be at fault with longer delays.
l Higher airfares: this is already starting. The euro rate (higher fuel prices) is already pushing these up, but higher landing fees for non-EU airlines are likely to raise these further.
l Visas: we already need one for Turkey, but will we be required to buy visas for entry to Spain, etc? The jury is still out on this one.