Most economic activities require a stable legal environment to develop their potential. If we assess the Brexit based on this basic norm, it is clear that the next few months, possibly years, depending on how quickly negotiations go, will create concerns in the tourism industry. Especially when taking into account the importance of tourism from the UK. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2015 almost 16 million people came to Spain from the UK and spent more than 14.000 million euros, which represents 30% of the total expenditure of foreign tourists in our country.
Almost all of the analyses we have read so far have focused on the problem of the devaluation of the British pound, however, from my point of view, I think this is not the most crucial element for the future. Firstly, there are no certainties when it comes to monetary policies. Who knows if the British pound will react well and in the medium term we will come across a strengthened currency? It’s best not to make predictions in this matter and focus on issues where action is possible.
What I do believe is essential is understanding the Brexit as the emotional breach that has been opened between Europe and Britain. The limitations on circulation are more linked to the traveler’s psychology that to rational points, but can very well be what has the most negative impact on the future. Spanish authorities must make efforts to continue consolidating Spain as a travel destination for British tourists by demonstrating that they are important and we want to keep counting on them. In the next few months, it will be essential to manage intangible aspects, linked to advertisement policies of Spain as a travel destination as well as a brand.
In this scenario, the other key players are the airlines. Easyjet, Ryanair and Vueling count on thousands of routes that link the UK and Spain, and I think that as they have made significant investments in the last few years, they will understandably continue backing their investments.
Ultimately, I find it hard to believe that Spain will become an impossible travel destination for British tourists overnight. In case this did happen, and even if the situation was only temporary, sun and sand tourism will be the most affected market as it will be difficult to fill the gap left by British tourists. In the case of holiday destinations, this could have an effect on the real estate market as the British could face purchase power problems as well as free access to public medical services. On the other hand, in urban destinations such as Madrid and Barcelona, it would be easier to cover this decrease with the arrival of tourists from other countries.