International visitation numbers should not be affected in the long-term.

By now, many of us have seen the headlines, and are wondering what happens next now that Britain has narrowly voted to leave the European Union. My colleagues and I at the U.S. Travel Association have fielded many questions about the potential impact of this decision on the travel industry, particularly from areas that receive many British visitors. Despite some short-term market anxiety, international visitation numbers should not be affected in the long run. 

As I told the Tampa Bay Times and many other outlets earlier today, we don’t anticipate any major changes in travel volume from Britain because leaving the EU will not affect UK visa policies. Visa agreements are bilateral between countries, so our mutual visa agreements with Britain will remain the same, regardless of membership in the EU. Aside from effects on the value of the pound, there should be no impact on British citizens’ interest or ability to come to the U.S.

Judging by the markets’ reactions today, of course, there appears to be a consumer confidence issue of the moment. We will be closely watching currency markets in the coming weeks and months, and we hope and expect that these issues will fade as all parties move forward with a post-Brexit plan.

The pound tumbled last night, and it’s easy to see how that’s worrisome for businesses impacted by British tourism, especially when compared to the current strength of the U.S. dollar. However, it’s good to remember that both the U.S. and UK currency markets are stable in the long term. Our research team has indicated, as well, that the strong dollar has not deterred international inbound travel as much as we had previously feared. While the Brexit impact cannot be measured yet, any downturn should be fairly short-lived.

We will be watching this situation closely, and amending our advice to the travel industry accordingly.