Industry Report: Brexit’s effect on travel still to come

Industry Report: Brexit’s effect on travel still to come

The full impact of Brexit on the global travel industry has not yet been felt, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London.

Some 700 senior professionals from around globe contributed to the WTM Industry Report, and were asked whether their business had felt any specific Brexit-related pressures, so far.

Almost half (45%) said they hadn’t noticed any difference in 2021 because of Brexit. Of those who acknowledged a Brexit effect, the response was overwhelmingly net negative. Only 8% noted a positive impact compared with 24% highlighting a negative.

The balance, representing one-in-four (23%) of the industry, were unsure or did not know the extent to which Brexit was a factor in their 2021 performance.

The UK officially left the European Union, with a trade deal, at the end of 2020. An article in The Financial Times this summer highlighted the difficulty in separating out the Brexit impact and the COVID impact on UK plc and on specific industries, saying “the picture on trade and employment has been swamped by the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The UK/EU trade deal has already resulted in some regulatory changes that will impact inbound and outbound travel between the UK and the remaining member states.  Many of the UK’s biggest mobile phone operators have announced the end of surcharge-free roaming for travellers, as was required by law when the UK was part of the EU.  This change will add to the cost of a trip for many and damage the in-destination experience for some.

Potential issues around passport expiry dates, driving licences, insurance, staffing levels at resorts,  immigration lines at airports, and more, are likely to persist into next year, alongside the issues related to COVID-19.

There will also be a combined Brexit/Covid impact on businesses as well as consumers. Recruiting staff will be different, while the complexities remain around cross-border tax, refunds, fulfilment and accounting.

Simon Press, Exhibition Director, WTM London, said: “To some extent, the industry so far has dodged the Brexit bullet because the Covid crisis overshadowed and dominated what would have been the first peak holiday season of the Brexit era.

“But as Covid restrictions start to ease, Brexit-related concerns around visas, financial protections, security, duty-free allowances, health cover and so on will come to the fore once more. These changes will need to be considered – and applied – in the context of the post-Covid travel landscape.

“The industry needs to get ready for Brexit again, in terms of not only our own business operations but also how we let customers know about the new requirements. WTM London helped businesses prepare the first time around and will continue to offer insights and education as Brexit reasserts itself into the travel conversation.”

WTM London takes place over the next three days (Monday 1 – Wednesday 3 November) at ExCeL – London.




World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts. In 2020, WTM Virtual facilitated 20,000+ meetings and held 42 live content sessions over the 3-days show.

Next live event: Monday 1 to 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next WTM Virtual: Monday 8 to 9 November 2021 – Virtual

Travel Forward London is the leading travel technology event, co-located with WTM London. Travel Forward is renowned for showcasing the next-generation technologies for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Over 19,000 travel officials and 150+ innovative solution providers attend for 3 days of cutting-edge insights, open debate and unrivalled networking opportunities. The combination of a 2-day conference, interactive exhibition and start-up showcase makes Travel Forward truly unique.

Next live event: Monday 1 November to Wednesday 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next Travel Forward Virtual: Monday 8 November to Tuesday 9 November 2021 – Virtual

London Travel Week, brought to you by WTM London, is the one-stop-shop for event hosts and visitors to be able to shape the next 12 months of travel together. The festival of events supports the global travel and tourism industry through capturing invaluable news and enhancing industry connections.

Next event: Friday 29 October – Friday 5 November 2021

WTM Virtualis the WTM Portfolio virtual platform, created to offer global delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings, to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more. WTM Virtual embrace the global leading travel shows in one platform.

WTM Latin America takes place annually in São Paulo and attracts around 19,000 tourism professionals during a three-day event. The show offers qualified content, as well as networking and business opportunities. In its ninth edition – the first 100% virtual – WTM Latin America followed its focus on effective business generation and reached the milestone of 4,200 meetings held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors.

Next event: Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 April 2022 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 April 2022 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with visitors from more than 140 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #IdeasArriveHere

Next in-person event: Sunday 8 to Wednesday 11 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, Arival Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Forward. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits.

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at

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World Travel Market brings the travel industry together through world-leading events, content and digital tools that make it easier for you to find personal and business opportunities and do more effective business.

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