There is a growing “puzzlement, frustration and a little bit of anger” from UK-based travel agents about government delays in negotiating Brexit, according to ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer.
With the UK set to leave the European Union in March next year, “a crunch time when hard choices will have to be made” is arriving, he added, arguing “the government should listen to those who have knowledge on their side, rather than just ideology”.
Tanzer pointed to several areas where the UK travel trade needed clarity, including aviation access, the movement of key workers, value added tax and consumer rights.
However, with just a few months to go before formal departure, there was precious little information available, he explained.
Speaking to an industry audience at the ABTA Travel Matters event earlier in London, Tanzer said: “On aviation access, the most critical issue, the government has said that it fully expects a deal will be done by March 2019.
“The industry, along with the rest of the nation, will hold the government to account for that.”
Following Brexit, Tanzer added, the UK had an excellent opportunity to position itself as the preeminent organiser of travel for the global community.
He pointed to the administration of airports, sustainable aviation and managing complex supply chains as areas at which the UK excelled.
Speaking at the same event, Baroness Sugg, transport minister for aviation, said travel had never been more important to the UK.
Defending the Brexit negotiations, the minister argued: “Securing a good deal for UK aviation, with the best possible access to aviation markets, remains one of our biggest Brexit objectives.
“Our vision for the future relationship with the European Union includes the continuity of air services and continued participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency.”
Baroness Sugg stated the UK was continuing discussions with Taskforce 50 on aviation arrangements, having already secured agreement the aviation industry could continue to operate on current terms until the end of 2020.
“It is in all of our interests to secure a good deal,” she added.