With Teresa May’s Brexit deal hanging by a thread after a crushing defeat in the UK parliament yesterday many experts now believe that a “no deal” is closer than ever. On the 29th of March this year one of the founding members of the European Union could topple out of the union without any deal in place, an uncertain future indeed. So what will this political confusion mean for British holidaymakers in 2019 and how could Brexit in whichever guise shape Dubrovnik’s tourism industry.
For the past decade tourists from the UK have been the most numerous in Dubrovnik. With several airlines connecting the UK and Dubrovnik, short flight times, guaranteed sunshine and historic and cultural attractions the city has proved to be a true magnet for the Brits. Combine all this with a country that is still outside of the Eurozone, and therefore the Euro, and you have an affordable, Mediterranean hotspot less than three hours from London.
According to a representative of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board “British tourists have been the most numerous in Dubrovnik for a number of years, with 2018 seeing 186,402 tourist arrivals and 889,002 overnight stays. This represents a 3 percent increase in the number of arrivals and 2 percent in overnight stays.” Clearly British tourists are extremely important for the tourism industry in Dubrovnik, an industry that makes up over 25 percent of the city’s GDP.
But what after Brexit? How will UK tourists change their travel plans to the EU, especially if a no deal Brexit is the only option?
On the practical side, and in spite of the scaremongering, it would appear that planes will still be able to operate between the EU and the UK. The European Commission have stated that even if there is a “no deal” UK airlines will still be able to operate to and from European airports. And the largest travel association in the UK, ABTA, have stated that “regardless of the Brexit outcome planes will still fly between the UK and the EU.” British Airways, EasyJet and Jet2.com, amongst others all fly directly from various UK airports to Dubrovnik. It would appear that these air links are safe after Brexit.
However, after the 29th of March 2019 there could well be extra delays at Dubrovnik Airport for flights arriving from the UK as it is expected that Brits will no longer be able to use the blue EU passage. Instead UK tourists, from 2021, will be forced to apply for a European travel information and authorisation scheme (ETIAS). And for the time being the UK government is advising travellers to renew their passports if they have less than six months left on it. This whole process could put Brits off from actually travelling to the EU this year.
And then there is the financial question. In 2015 the pound had a strong relationship with the Croatian Kuna, around 10.5 Kuna to 1 GBP. However, over the past few years it has continuously fallen and today stands at around 8.3 Kuna to 1 GBP. And the pound is predicted by many financial experts to weaker even further after Brexit. This will seriously affect not only the spending power of UK tourists in Dubrovnik but also could well see more and more Brits deciding to holiday at home this year. "The one difference that holiday-makers have noticed since the referendum is the value of the pound against the euro and dollar. When people change their money now, people are not getting as much for their money as previously. It’s difficult to know what will happen going forward,” commented one financial expert.
And if you were thinking of driving your car from the UK to the European Union you’ll need more documents and paperwork after Brexit. This will also affect Brits looking to rent a car in Dubrovnik after the 29th of March. UK drivers will need to have an international driving permit, which costs around £5.50, as well as Green Card for insurance purposes if Brits are driving their own UK registered car in the European Union. According to information from the website of the UK government “In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU and EEA.”