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  1. ITV Report

Remain or Leave? What could it mean for the travel industry

A departure from the European Union could have an impact on the travel and tourism industry.

Ahead of the in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, ITV News looks at the potential impact on the travel and tourism industry, starting with some key facts.

76%
of UK holidays abroad are in the EU (29.3 million holidays).
63%
of visitors to the UK are from the EU (8.8 million holidays).
68%
business visits from the UK are to the EU (4.6 million).
73%
of business visitors to the UK are from the EU (6 million).
The top four destinations for travel within the European Union.
44%
travel and tourism spending in the UK is by EU nationals
56%
of UK travel and tourism spending goes to EU countries

Source: ONS, Travel Trends 2014, ONS, January 2016

The cost of an flight to the European Union, according to the International Air Transport Association

What do the ABTA travel association say about the prospect of the UK leaving the EU?

The open skies agreement in 1997 gave airlines the freedom to fly across the continent under one single agreement, leading to more routes, more airlines and lower fares.

The travel association Abta, which has around 1,200 members including airlines and travel agents, says if the UK left the EU, airlines would have to renegotiate licenses with each European country.

An Abta report says "prolonged uncertainty" could weaken the pound against other currencies, which could lead to rising costs for travel industry depending on negotiations if Britain leaves the EU.

We recognise that people will approach this referendum by considering many factors – personal, professional, and economic – before casting their vote. Abta has considered what a vote to leave the EU might mean purely from a travel perspective. Our view is that the potential risks and downsides are not matched by an equal upside for the traveller.

– Mark Tanzer, CEO of the Association of British Travel Agents
  • What would happen to roaming fees if we leave the EU?

The EU has recently introduced caps on roaming charges for calls, texts and internet. They will be abolished by June 2017. If the UK left the EU, the regulation would end and it would be up to the government to make its own law. The mobile companies could decide to offer the same deal to UK.

  • Would we still receive free local health care?
The EHIC card enables travellers to get state healthcare for free or at a reduced cost. Credit: NHS

The European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, allows people to access local health care in the same way as locals. The government would have to negotiate a deal to keep this. If it didn't, it would mean holidaymakers would have to cover the costs, which may make the cost of travel insurance more expensive.

  • What would our rights as passengers be if we came out of the EU?

Passenger rights in the event of flight delays, cancellations or if you are denied boarding would be lost if the country left the EU. This protection also offers care and assistance like food and accommodation if you are stranded for any length of time. The UK government would have to make its own similar laws for us to maintain this protection.

  • Would package holidays be protected?

The EU offers consumer protection if the package holiday company becomes insolvent or if they fail to provide the services they say they would. These protections would remain in place in the event of leaving the EU, but some negotiations may be required.

  • Would we still be able to bring back whatever goods we want from European trips?

No, unless it is part of an exit deal, we may end up with duty free allowances from European destinations in the same way as we currently have from non-EU countries.