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Brexit: what impact on the economy of European, French and British tourism?

The British Parliament's vote on the Brexit agreement negotiated by Theresa May's government with Brussels was due to take place on 11 December, but has been postponed. If this draft is rejected by MEPs, the United Kingdom will have to decide whether to grant a Brexit without agreement or to keep it in the Union. In terms of tourism, what weight do British clientele have in the various European countries and which regions are most dependent on this market?

Europe: Mediterranean countries, the main hosts of British tourists

British visitors are one of the largest tourist contingents across many European countries with almost 120 million nights spent in tourist accommodations in the EU 28 outside their country.

Among the most exposed markets are many destinations oriented towards leisure tourism, particularly on the shores of the Mediterranean.

In Malta, for example, more than 2.8 million overnight stays were recorded in 2016 by travelers from the United Kingdom, well ahead of those from Italy and Germany. The air links between Malta airport and London Gatwick (1st), Manchester (7th) and London Heathrow (8th) airports are among the most frequented and offer an indication of the strong impact on the island's entire tourist value chain of the island that a Brexit without a divorce agreement could have.

[Data] Learn more about the customer mix in Malta and Cyprus

Cyprus recorded more than 5.3 million overnight stays from the United Kingdom in 2016, followed by Russia with almost 4.3 million overnight stays. In addition to tourism, the United Kingdom also participates in the country's economic life with a military base on the island with more than 3,000 soldiers.

Other destinations are also exposed to the possible decline in the purchasing power of British households, starting with Iceland, with United Kingdom nationals accounting for 18.1% of overnight stays in the country in hotels or similar accommodation in 2017. Then come three countries in the south of the continent: Spain and Portugal with 17.4% and 16.1% of nights to be attributed to the British respectively, followed by Greece with 14.2% of nights in 2017.

[Interactive map] Find the most dependent countries in Europe for British customers

France: the north, Disneyland and the ski resorts have close ties with British customers

Among the departments potentially most affected are the Pas-de-Calais, the gateway to continental Europe for the British, followed by Seine-et-Marne due to the presence of Disneyland Paris, of which the British are generally particularly fond of it, to the point of being the leading source market for hotels in and around the park.

The 3rd most exposed department to British tourism is Savoy (11.2% of the total in 2014) where British skiers flock each winter. Knowing that they are also on average more extravagant than domestic customers, their weight on the resorts accommodation economy is even more significant.

[Interactive map] Find the French departments most dependent on British customers

How is London's tourism economy doing?

In London, the number of international arrivals in 2017 increased considerably with +7.5% over the first 9 months of the year. In addition, the city accounted for 53% of the country's tourism revenues and 40% of overnight stays in 2016.

In the long term, the impact of Brexit remains difficult to assess, but has already resulted in a significant decline in the pound sterling against the euro. Nevertheless, the price competitiveness of the London hotel industry for international leisure visitors has been strengthened by recent exchange rate developments. Thus, according to the National Statistics Office, foreign visitors decided to take advantage of their purchasing power and spent 2.8 billion pounds (3.2 billion euros) in August 2017, an +3% increase compared to the previous year in the same period.




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