Across the short stretch of water that will soon be officially called La Manche lies a mysterious continent called Europe. I mention this because a new study reveals that Brexit could bring a boost to the tourism industries of a number of European nations over the next two years as more Brits holiday on the continent before we exit the EU, with Italy and Spain profiting the most presumably because they have the best weather.
However, the findings also show that many British tourists will be unprepared for driving on foreign roads.
I don’t understand. Europe was there before the European Union. Ever since, roughly, the early 1960’s (when ‘package’ holidays first came into being), Brits have sunned themselves on the golden beaches of the Med whilst loading up on the Imodium because they forgot to refuse ice made from poisonous ‘foreign’ water in their drinks or ate some of that ‘foreign muck’. Vacations in Europe are nothing new.
Nevertheless the research, courtesy of Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair chain, found that 7.1million Brits who have not visited Italy previously are keen to do so before the UK leaves the EU. Spain is set to see 5.6million new British visitors, and so on.
The question is, if we were prepared to travel to these unknown lands with their dusty unmade roads and questionable bars sixty-odd years ago, why should it make any difference now?
Tourists willing to spend money will never be turned back at the gates with a curt ‘Non’. Sure, passport controls might be tougher (after all, that’s what we apparently want here isn’t it?) but those bygone happy holidaymakers of yore already have had plenty of experience of surly border control officials. Why should it be any different after 2019?
Arguably, it might be more expensive. Right now we can only get a measly 88 euro-cents for our paltry Pound which means cutting back on straw donkeys and such. Back in the old days these foreign jaunts were mighty cheap with bucket loads of Pesetas or Lira for the then strong and muscular British Quid. It was simply cheaper to go and see The Abroad rather than to ‘staycate’.
We will have to see how it goes once the politicians have finished fudging the issue beyond all reasonable understanding and take it from there.
What Brexit does not mean is that we will no longer be welcome in Europe. The sun will still shine, the sangria will still flow and you’ll still be able to get a Sunday roast or fish & chips or familiar condoms (“Sales are down Mateo, the Ingleesh are not ‘ere”). Certainly, Jean-Claude Stinker probably won’t invite you round for drinks but I would suggest that for most people who cater for tourists it will be business as usual.
As for driving in Europe, why should it be any more tricky after 2019? The study found that more than one in six drivers do no research before they drive abroad, saying they rely on ‘common sense’, ‘international road symbols’ or ‘advice from the car hire company’.
A further 46% admit to only doing a little bit of research for their holiday themselves, with only just over a third saying they do thorough research. Kwik Fit’s study suggests that this lack of research could be the cause of uncertainty on foreign roads.
Can you imagine what it was like for those 60’s holiday pioneers? No internet! How on earth did they cope with life? (The Internet: where you can find all the most up-to-date advice on foreign driving which is why the statistics above are so surprising); the best you could hope for was perhaps a dog-eared written guide from the library penned years before and containing dire warnings about goats and other foreign hazards.
Brexit certainly means a huge change for many who know nothing of what went before. Older people will remember a time before Europe and, do you know what? Brits still went on holiday and foreign johnnies still came here. The politicians love stirring this crap; it is what they live for but why should they spoil our fun? You will still be able to visit Europe after 2019 and it will be fine. That’s an actual fact. Geoff Maxted