What does Brexit mean for the travel industry?

The EU Referendum result will "throw the spotlight on to many benefits British travellers have taken for granted for years", according to the managing director of Cheapflights.co.uk.

Among the benefits that could be affected by Brexit are the European open skies agreements – which may now have to be renegotiated – a robust UK currency, free healthcare within the EU and unlimited shopping allowances, according to Andrew Shelton.

However, he acknowledged that this is speculative at the time being, with it expected to take a minimum of two years for the UK to leave the EU.

In that time, Shelton is hopeful that efforts will be made to secure the British travel industry.

He said: "The UK travel market is vital to the economy of many European countries and regions. It will be in their interests to seek ways to maintain the status quo. We believe a lot of effort will be made in the coming months and years to ensure the UK cash cow isn't put out to pasture."

It's fair to say that the UK travel industry was firmly in the 'Remain' camp, with research suggesting that the Leave vote could have a negative impact on the sector.

One such report, 'What Brexit might mean for UK travel', by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), conducted in partnership with Deloitte, found little in the way of positives resulting from Brexit.

Here are four key findings from the study:

1. Brexit could jeopardise free movement

The EU is the main destination for UK tourists, and the main source market for overseas tourists coming to the UK. Tourism between the UK and EU has been facilitated by the free moment of people across the EU – but this could be jeopardised when the UK removes itself from the EU, says the report.

2. Sterling value to drop

We're already seeing evidence of this with Sterling hitting its lowest point for 30 years immediately after the result was announced on Friday. ABTA says the impact on the travel industry in terms of costs depends largely on the agreements the sector would adopt and how easily it could transition to the new arrangements.

3. Travellers rights shake-up

Brexit is likely to mean that EU-originating regulations that benefit and protect travelling consumers will need replacing with parallel UK-originated regulations to ensure that consumer confidence is maintained.

4. Potential skills shortage

Brexit could limit the sector's ability to recruit or employ foreign nationals, including those from EU. This could make travel hospitality businesses' lives harder when it comes to filling a number of roles, even leading to a skills shortage.

However, it all remains largely hypothetical for the time being. Now the UK must decide if it is going to join the European Economic Area, which some claim would mean little change as far as the travel industry in concerned. On the other hand, if the UK enters a free trade agreement without free movement of persons or services, tourism is likely to be affected.

Let the negotiations commence.