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Brexit uncertainty unsettles annual Christmas vacationer commerce



(8 Nov 2019) LEAD IN
Brexit uncertainty has led to some jitters within the travel industry ahead of the traditional getaway to tourist hotspots like Lapland.
Some are noticing later bookings than usual, but the delay in Brexit has been welcomed by others serving the UK market.

STORY-LINE
Santa doesn’t have to worry about renewing his passport to travel the globe and visit UK children this year.
He was saved at the last minute by the latest January Brexit extension.
The UK is due to leave the European Union by the end of January, while Finland, the official home of Santa Claus, remains a member.
It’s been three years since Brits voted in a referendum to leave the EU, and an air of uncertainty has hovered over many industries ever since.
Kirsi Jokela is originally from Lapland and now works in London for the Nordic travel company, Best Served Scandinavia.
She says one thing she has noticed since the referendum is that Brits are booking holidays to Lapland much later in the year than previously, a possible result of economic uncertainty.
However she says the quantity of bookings is still high:
“We are actually looking forward to one of our best Decembers yet, we still have a few rooms available.”
She adds that due to counter currency exchange fluctuations and the weakening of the pound, they are now offering price guarentees.
“We’ve been offering a Brexit price guarantee which means that we will honour the exchange rate at the time of booking, which seems to be encouraging people to book.”
Ilkka Lankinen is the chief experience officer at one of Lapland’s main tourist attarctions, Santa Park.
Speaking in London he says the Brexit extension is ” definitely good news for us, and also because the UK market is great for us, we love the UK guests and they love us. Now we have snow, now we have cold and now we have no Brexit at least at the moment so it’s looking good for Christmas.”
Sean Tipton from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) agrees that economic uncertainty around Brexit doesn’t seem to be putting off the average Lapland tourist.
Firstly, he says, many choose package deals which are paid for in sterling and secondly most are aware that it is not a cheap holiday destination to begin with.
However he adds that there are two major practical considerations to take into account once Britain is no longer a member of the EU.
“First of all your European health insurance card gives you access to state medical care which is very good in Finland, you won’t be able to use that, so you need to have decent travel insurance,” he says.
“And check your passport, because you’ll need at least 6 months validity left on the end of your passport, which currently you don’t, but again that’s only an issue if your passport is due for renewal. So if it is check it and renew it now, it doesn’t take very long, it’s a pretty efficient process.”
Tipton advises that during these uncertain times, which have also recently seen major travel group Thomas Cook collapse, it’s always safer to book a package holiday.

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