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Visa exemption agreements must remain post-Brexit if EU tourism is to thrive

Visa exemption agreements must remain post-Brexit if EU tourism is to thrive

The UK is finally leaving the EU, but there remains much speculation about potential future visa requirements for holidaymakers. 

According to the travel experts, offering their view on why more burdensome entry requirements for tourists would have no benefit, nobody would gain from a tightening of entry requirements for tourists, so it is hard to envisage any change to the decision announced in April 2019 – namely that visas will not be required for short stays.

Tourism flows between the UK and Schengen Area countries are significant. Seven of the UK’s ten largest source markets are EU Schengen states, while one other – Ireland – is a non-Schengen EU state.

Conversely, the UK is a top ten source market for all Schengen states, and is the largest source market for France, Spain and Malta, as well as for Ireland.

These countries’ tourism industries rely on each other – any legislative changes that make travel between them more difficult would be completely counterproductive and significantly damage the tourism industry, which is economically critical for economies across Europe. 

Cooler heads have so far prevailed. In April 2019, the European Council, European Parliament and Council of the EU agreed that following Brexit, UK citizens visiting Schengen states for 90 days or less in a 180 day period should be granted visa free travel.

However, this exemption is granted on the grounds of reciprocity. If either party reneges and makes a move to impose visas, the other will, in the words of the European Parliament, ‘apply the existing reciprocity mechanism’.

Tourism companies across Europe will be hoping that remains no more than a remote possibility.