Musings about Brexit and other matters
been scrupulously careful to avoid the ‘B’ subject when setting down my monthly
musings on life now and then. Not even the ‘B’ word has passed my lips – or,
rather, slipped out from beneath my typing fingertips.
I’ve had many encounters – particularly over the Christmas and New Year holiday
break – with folk who are worried about the effect Brexit (there, I’ve gone and
done it now) will have on their foreign holidays.
short answer is – I haven’t a clue. But the short answer doesn’t apply to such
a complicated question, so a combination of many years’ experience of the
international holiday scene, some basic information, and a hefty dose of common
sense has to be applied in order to give you the longer answer.
start with a scene-setter. Something to get your brain into the right gear. Something
that has absolutely nothing to do with ‘B’.
years ago than you can shake a stick at, I was writing and syndicating travel
articles to a group of UK regional papers. Important papers they were, too, at
a time when the local press was flourishing.
of the chaps with whom I had regular conversations was Andy, whose job it was
to drum up advertising to go alongside my columns, and one evening, as we sat
with our pints in a pub close to the office, he told me about a meeting he had
attended that afternoon.
employers had spent a lot of money in order to get marketing advice from a firm
of consultants. This firm employed experts who collected facts, drew up charts
and spoke jargon. The meeting had been called to give our advertising department
the benefit of their wisdom, and most of
it had been taken up with the experts telling our chaps how well-informed they
were, thanks to the massive research they had carried out in the towns where
our papers were published.
When it came to question time, Andy asked if it was possible for their research to discover where our readers would be taking their holidays later in the year. Such knowledge would be of real value when it came to making editorial and advertising plans, of course.
experts pondered for a while, then assured him that collecting sufficient date,
based on extensive interviews, would be a time-consuming and expensive
operation, and therefore could not be done.
I do it every week,” said Andy. “I don’t need to carry out expensive research,
or take a long time about it. Every Monday afternoon I phone the managers of
the Thomas Cook shops in each of our towns, and a selection of independent
travel agents, and they tell me the most popular destinations, based on the
previous week’s bookings.”
moral of the story? It is sometimes best to use common sense rather than listen
to what the ‘experts’ have to say. All the more so when you know those experts
have axes to grind, and not-so-hidden agendas to follow.
you were to base your judgement on the behaviour and statements of Members of
both Houses of Parliament, you might easily think that the country is torn
apart and society teeters on the brink of anarchy. If you heeded only the
declarations of the ‘experts’ and political commentators, on television and
radio and in the press, you would not know if our problems are insurmountable,
or easily managed.
would not know if we are in for calm seas and a prosperous voyage, or going to
Hell in a handcart.
is at such a moment that you must, like my old chum Andy, set such nonsense
aside and use your common sense, and powers of observation.
the last couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping an eye on the two main travel
agencies in my local shopping centre. Both have been busy every time I have
passed them, and glanced inside. The manageress of one told me only this week
that they are taking bookings at a rate that belies all the stories of hard
times and uncertainty. (And which, by the way, reinforces the point I made in
my last article about the trend back towards High Street travel agencies.)
From this you may deduce that plenty of people are of the opinion that their holidays to Spain or Greece, Italy or Portugal, or wherever, will not be affected by our leaving the EU. They are not swayed by forecasts of grounded aircraft or interminable delays at passport control. They believe that common sense and commercial necessity will combine to produce workable solutions to any problems that arise.
this comes news from the Portuguese government that – after ‘B’ day – it intends
to offer a visa exemption to British visitors, provide dedicated passport
control desks for flights from the UK, and allow visitors to access the
Portuguese equivalent of the NHS.
dependent as they are on income from tourism, and with their economies in
freefall, I have no doubt the Greek, Spanish and Italian tourist authorities
will follow the example set by Britain’s oldest ally.
will other countries who appreciate that, compared with holidaymakers of all
other European nationalities, the British are very high spenders indeed.
is going on holiday with one of her closest friends in early summer – a Rhine
cruise which involves a trip on the Eurostar – so, I was particularly
interested to hear what Xavier Bertrand said towards the end of January.
President of the Hauts-de-France region and announced that French ports and the
Eurotunnel will be ready for uninterrupted business, even in the event of a ‘no
week that passes brings more news of commonsense preparations being made by
people who actually know what they are talking about because what they are
talking about is what they do for a living.
would much rather trust the opinions of chaps like M. Bertrand, or the senior
executives whose job it is to run the ports of Dover and Calais, or the
respective heads of the Irish and UK Customs Services, rather than the biased
utterances of MPs and the commentariat.
that I don’t enjoy watching and listening to the latter – especially when they
appear on late night television, reviewing the next morning’s newspapers. I
don’t know if you watch those programmes, on the BBC News Channel and Sky News,
but common sense flies out of the studio window when some of them get the
Brexit bit between their teeth.
they will do when it is all over, I have no idea. Maybe they will devote a
little time to apologising for the mendacious rubbish they have been spouting
(on both sides of the argument). But I doubt it.