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Brexit uncertainty leads to dip in ferry bookings, research from Discover Ferries claims

Uncertainty over Brexit has led to a dip in the number of ferry passengers booking travel to EU countries.

With Britain's withdrawal from the EU being just one week away, research by Discover Ferries shows that a quarter of respondents (a fifth in the South East) have put off booking their summer holiday for 2020 until after January 31 because of recent chopping and changing.

The study shows 68% are not entirely sure what Brexit means for travellers and in the South East 30% think they will need a visa to enter any EU country and 44% think they will have to pay for medical care because they think their EHIC card will no longer be valid.

But now it's been confirmed travel requirements stay the same until December 31, Discover Ferries and the Port of Dover maintain it's business as usual.

Emma Batchelor from Discover Ferries told Kentonline this morning: "We are for the rest of this yearin a transition period now that the UK government has passed the EU withdrawal agreement, and what that means is that there are absolutely no changes to the travel requirements to the EU or anywhere else for this year. That's great news for people like us who live in Kent.

"There's been so much conversation around Brexit and the deal or no deal scenario, that it's been really confusing for people wanting to book travel. And our research shows that up to a fifth of people (in the South East) have consciously delayed their 2020 holiday decisions as a result.

"But the great news is there is absolutely no changes to travel requirements for anyone looking to travel by ferry over to the EU for the rest of this year so people should book their holidays and ferry travel with absolute confidence."

The Port of Dover says it's business as usual even after Brexit because there will be no change in the documents needed for travel this year
The Port of Dover says it's business as usual even after Brexit because there will be no change in the documents needed for travel this year

This means there are no new requirements for people travelling with valid passports, pet passports European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), green cards and driving permits.

Since last summer, the government has been gearing travellers up for changes in the documentation they'll need to provide for travel to the EU.

Ms Batchelor agreed that where we've missed the March 31, May 31 and October 30deadlines, people haven't heard much about changes to documents this time around, it may mean they expect there will be issues at the ports.

Across the UK it’s led to a 6.6% reduction in bookings in 2019 but a 7.8% drop for ferries operating the eastern English Channel routes including Dover.

Discover Ferries' survey revealed 46% of respondents want reassurance before they book a holiday and 24% have been consciously delaying making decisions about their 2020 holiday plans (18% in the south east).

"There is absolutely no changes to travel requirements for anyone looking to travel by ferry over to the EU for the rest of this year so people should book their holidays and ferry travel with absolute confidence..."

Barbara Buczek, chief commercial officer and the Port of Dover, said: “It is business as usual here at Dover throughout 2020.

"The UK is due to enter a transition period when it leaves the EU on January 31, which means that nothing changes this year.

"Whether it is for Easter, Summer or Christmas getaways, weekend breaks or day trips, customers can book and travel from Dover with confidence, enjoying all of the benefits of the unrivalled ferry services provided by P&O Ferries and DFDS on the shortest sea crossing.”

Ms Batchelor added that the main details "continue to be ironed out" for what happens past December 21 but in the meantime "ferry operations will continue to operate as usual."

She added: "There's been lots of discussion about potential issues but now we can say with absolute clarity that that's not going to happen."

The Government will begin its withdrawal negotiations with the EU on February 1

Discover ferries is an industry body representing 13 ferry operators in the UK, British Isles and Ireland operating more than 80 routes.

Dan Bridgett, Head of Communications at P&O Ferries, said: "As long as there are goods and people travelling between the UK and Europe, P&O Ferries will continue to provide a comprehensive ferry and logistics service to and from the continent. We have been engaging closely with the authorities on both sides and they have given us to understand that they are fully aware of the economic and commercial importance of the free flow of traffic across their borders.

"We expect them to act to mitigate the impact of any reintroduced customs and sanitary controls so that our customers can continue to rely on our services for the import and export of vital goods.”

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