Britain exits the EU: What does this mean for SA Travellers?

June 24, 2016

The UK votes to leave the European Union! British Prime Minister Resigns. Markets crash as UK votes to leave EU. These are the headlines the world woke up to on the 24th of June 2016. The shock result of the UK referendum to leave the European Union has sent shockwaves through financial markets around the world. Many questions remain regarding border controls and immigration policy. Now the question is how does the Brexit affect South African travellers?

The pound has taken a major tumble after the result of the referendum was announced. The rand is closely tied with the pound as we are a major trading partner with the UK, our previous colonial masters. The rand has in turned weakened and this will make it more expensive for travellers to go on holiday abroad. However there is a flipside to the weakening of the pound. If the rand strengthens to the pound it could become more affordable to travel in the UK. This means more spending money for travellers once they’re in the United Kingdom.


The biggest impact on South African travellers following the Brexit vote will be the changes in the Rand – Dollar, Rand – Pound and Rand – Euro rates, but there might be some practical changes too. All European Union member states are part of one single aviation area. Low-cost airlines in the UK like Ryan Air and easyJet have thrived since the single aviation area treaty was signed as travelling between EU member states became cheap and easy. Ryan Air, for example, does not have to pay international flight taxes for flights from London to Barcelona because England and Spain are both EU member states. Now the UK will be leaving the EU which means extra taxes and levies will be piled onto each flight between the UK and Continental Europe, which will in turn increase the average cost of a flight between the UK and all European countries.

Currently this is all speculation of course. The UK will now have to appoint a new Prime Minister to deal with Brexit. We will have to wait and see what deals will be signed and which treaties will be abolished as the UK prepares to exit the European Union. South Africans are already required to apply for a visa to visit the UK, separate from the Schengen Visa required to visit EU member states. If flight prices between the UK and Europe increase because of the reasons stated above, combining destinations within the European Union and the UK will become more expensive.

The UK will now have to negotiate their exit from the European Union, a process that will most likely take more than 2 years to complete. The British economy will almost certainly be negatively impacted by this decision in the short to medium term. Although there is currently a lot of uncertainty around the future of travelling to and from Europe and the UK one thing is for sure, the Brexit result will almost certainly have an adverse effect on South African travellers.

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