The Balearic Brexit Affect

In 2017 the Balearic Islands received nearly 20 million visitors through its airports of which 4.4 million were from the United Kingdom, its 2nd biggest market. When you break it down the numbers for the islands were as follows.

screenshot 2019-01-21 at 19.08.35

As you can see, almost 1 in 4 people who come to the Balearics are British so anything that affects the UK will, inevitably, have a knock on affect.

So it’s safe to say that the Spanish are more than a little perturbed about Brexit and the implications for the future and more specifically this coming summer. Like most things to do with Brexit nobody really knows what will happen so the continuing uncertainty only fuels the fear.

The Balearics are so concerned about Brexit that they have organised an emergency conference in Mallorca for the beginning of February to discuss all possibilities, they don’t want to leave anything to chance and this signifies how seriously they value the British market and it’s importance to their economy.

In the short term the major problem is the exchange rate fluctuations between the euro and pound. As the pound gets weaker, British tourists will have less money in their pockets so less money to spend. This is also why other destinations such as Turkey, Croatia and Egypt are increasingly more attractive to those on a specific budget. Ibiza isn’t the cheapest of destinations so these little things can have big ramifications.

Even with the continuing dithering the good news is that holidays are sacrosanct to the British nation, carved into an unwritten constitution under ‘thou shall travel’ and Brits are truly great travellers, forever plotting and planning their trips away. One difference that Brexit may bring is the amount of times they travel per year so that sneaky late September trip to the White Isle could be temporarily put on ice.

On the flip side the ex-pat community in Spain are stuck in a bit of limbo until Brexit has been fully resolved. Healthcare, pensions and workers rights are all important issues but these can only be confirmed after Brexit and a no-deal would mean that they are left hanging in the air for an extended period which creates a short term vacuum that many aren’t prepared to risk. Many Brits have already upped sticks from Spain and returned home where their rights are more ring-fenced.

Whether you are a brexiteer or a remainer the continuing political impasse isn’t good but the most important thing to remember is that with over 17,000,000 Brits visiting Spain every year there is plenty of goodwill on both sides to continue the special relationship. This was clearly shown yesterday /21/01/2019) when the 2 countries announced a reciprocal voting agreement which means that Brits living in Spain will definitely have the right to vote in the forthcoming municipal elections on 26 May 2019. This is the first of many agreements that will be made in the coming months and years.

Simon Manley, the British Ambassador to Spain, has been working tirelessly on a big PR exercise popping up up all over Spain and on Spanish TV with words of reassurance stressing that although the UK will be leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019 it still very much values it’s geographical place in the heart of the Europe.

As ever with the Anglo-Spanish relationship there is always a sizeable elephant in the corner of the room in the shape of Gibraltar which could still become a major stumbling block even though the Gibraltarians have consistently voted for their independence under the union flag. Brexit gives Spain a chance to renegotiate their position which has strengthened since the UK referendum.

Amongst all the doomsday predictions and the brexiteer over confidence lies the way forward but come 29 March you can be sure that life will go on with possibly a few disruptions but planes will definitely not be falling out of the skies (remember the millennium bug?).

It’s business as usual for Ibiza and the Balearics safe in the knowledge that we have a desirable product but we can use Brexit as a reminder that we have to work harder to attract all nationalities and not over rely on any one market. Even though Brexit creates uncertainty the British tourist will always be an important player in the Ibiza and Balearic game.

Author: Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts and catch me on Radio One Mallorca every Tuesday morning.

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