On June 23, British citizens will be faced with a major question in polling booths up and down the UK – ‘should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’
The polls still point to an unclear outcome with the media claiming many voters are yet to make up their mind – the result hangs in the balance.
Many voices have been heard on the merits of staying in or leaving the EU. Where the DCC Forum helps business travellers understand the choices available to them abroad, we decided to listen to those from the UK on their views on the referendum, given they are a group of people who would no doubt experience the impact of a Brexit first hand.
The results of our research, which we commissioned in conjunction with Censuswide, proved interesting reading. One in four business travellers are feeling uncertain about the prospect of Britain withdrawing from the European Union. A further 15% have said it is something that they worry about and only 13% said they had no worries about the impact it would have on their next business trip. At large, 15% of those surveyed said that the prospect of a Brexit makes them feel happy.
At a local level the results varied, with those in Wales worried most about business travel (23%) if the vote leave campaign wins, while those in the North East worried the least (6%). Respondents in London fell somewhere in between, with 16% stating that the prospect of Brexit worried them.
We also looked at how UK business travellers felt Britain leaving the EU would tangibly impact their travel in Europe. Their greatest concern surrounded gaining entry into countries, with a quarter worried they’d have to apply for visas before their trips and 20% worried by possible delays at passport control. The prospect of increased airfares as a result of a Brexit was noted as a concern for 21%, prompting less flexibility as to when and how often they can make it to meetings abroad.
It’s clear from the research that there is a level of unease amongst the business traveller community about the result of the referendum, so it makes sense that the travel trade does everything it can to support them at this time. Fact needs to be detached from fiction with clear guidance given on what leaving and staying in the EU means. On top of this, there needs to be a level of honesty about what the known implications will be for business travellers if the UK leaves. It’s also important to make business travellers aware that if the UK does leave the EU, there would be a transition period and any changes will take time to come into force.
Whatever happens in June, business travellers will continue to play an important role in the UK’s international trade. It’s great to see that more than two thirds (67%) of UK business travellers polled said they were definitely expecting to travel abroad and do more business globally next year, no matter what the outcome of the referendum is.
At any rate, those who took part in our survey, myself and our peers in the travel industry will no doubt be watching the results of the vote with bated breath.