The ramifications of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union are far‐reaching and appear to offer a potential windfall for Australian tourists as the value of the pound plunges. But data from Cheapflights.com.au reveals there have been very mixed reactions from travellers across the country as the Brexit dust settles.
Overall, Aussies are still sitting on the fence with flight searches to Britain increasing just four per cent in the wake of the historic decision. However, the state by state data shows highly varied responses from local consumers.
Sydneysiders and Melbournians are most apprehensive, with searches to the UK actually declining by eight per cent and three per cent respectively since the ‘Brexit’ result. Brisbane residents are more optimistic, with their enthusiastic increase in flight searches (40 per cent) matched by those in Adelaide (31 per cent) and Perth (17 per cent). Adding to the should‐we‐stay‐or‐should‐we‐go mood, average airfares to the UK remain steady, with the current price consistent with the average norm for this time of year.
Although social media has been abuzz with Britons and expats alike declaring their plans to leave the UK as a result of the vote, there has only been a one per cent increase in searches from the UK to Oz since last Friday.
Across the ditch, the picture is quite different. Insights from Cheapflights show Kiwis are keen to nab a British bargain with searches from Christchurch increasing by 53 per cent, followed by Wellington (47 per cent) and Auckland (15 per cent). Fare prices to the UK have also shot up by 15 per cent from Wellington and Christchurch.
As Aussies decide when the best time to visit the UK will be, Cheapflights has provided some insights into what we can expect over the next few months and tips to help navigate the changes.
TRAVELLING TO THE UK
According to Andrew Shelton, Managing Director of Cheapflights: “While the number of overall flight searches to the UK have currently stalled, we expect Aussies will take advantage of the better exchange rate if it stays this way within the next month or so.
“This would be in line with the trend we’ve seen in the days since Brexit in other markets. For example, flight searches from the US to the UK doubled, searches from China jumped 61 per cent and Canada by 2 49 per cent. Searches for flights to the UK from EU countries shot up 31 per cent in the same period, with Spain and Italy leading the push, showing increases of 84 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.”
For those looking at UK travel, he said now is also a good time to take full advantage of the favourable exchange rate by stocking up on pounds with a prepaid travel card, or paying for accommodation and experiences in advance.
While the market is ever‐changing, indications are that flight prices will likely increase in the short term. Low‐cost carriers within the European Union, such as Ryanair and Easyjet, have warned that jet fuel prices linked to the dollar may increase as the carriers lose their ability to operate freely within the open European aviation market. The volatile pound is also effecting airfares.
“We’ve seen a small increase in airfare prices from New Zealand to the UK since the referendum result was announced on Friday, and this could translate to Australia as well. A few airlines are offering Brexit sales post the announcement, so we would suggest that if travellers see a good deal, they grab it quickly as it may not be around for long,” said Shelton.
VISA RIGHTS According to Australia’s high commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, Brexit could provide a new platform to push for changes to our Visa arrangements and enhance access for Australians wanting to live and work in the region. This is a space to watch for those with a long term view, with diplomatic negotiations unlikely to deliver tangible outcomes in the immediate future.
“It’s a mixed message for the travel industry and travellers in general at the moment. There are undoubtedly still some great deals to be found on flights, but while the weakening pound is good news for Australians and New Zealanders travelling to the UK, a widespread sense of uncertainty is giving holidaymakers worldwide a pause for thought before they book,” said Shelton.