Equity have always, and continue to, prioritise the safety and security of our groups. To ensure that school groups who travel with us have peace of mind from the moment they book until they return to school, we are active members of the School Travel Forum, we are ABTA members and we are ATOL licensed.
We understand the concerns caused by the current political climate with the terms of Brexit being still under negotiation and how the conclusion of current affairs may impact your school trips abroad.
In order to ensure that we are organising our trips in line with developments of this nature we are taking advice from ABTA, (www.abta.com) the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office), and the School Travel Forum (www.schooltravelforum.com).
Whilst there will be a lack of clarity until Brexit negotiations are finalised, please be assured that the organisation of your trip and the well-being of students is of the utmost importance when travelling with us. We will update our schools immediately with information about Brexit that will affect their trip, however please feel free to raise any concerns with your Travel Advisor or Product Delivery Specialist who will be happy to advise.
Currently, we advise groups in line with FCO guidance that passports should have at least six months validity at time at of travel.
We will continue to update this site, our school groups, our staff, and our close travel partners with travel related Brexit updates as they become available. Please see the government foreign travel advice website link here for further information: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Whatever the outcome of the political landscape, we continue to look forward to organising memorable and enjoyable trips in partnership with our schools for many years to come.
Please find below updates regarding Brexit developments impacting the travel industry:
The government’s White Paper, the so-called Chequers agreement, recently set out the UK’s negotiating stance for Brexit over the coming months.
Many of the main priorities essential to preserve a successful tourism industry - such as maintaining open skies access, remaining part of EASA, ensuring visa-free travel, and keeping the EHIC system – are featured in the White Paper. This is very encouraging and shows the Government recognises the value and contributions of the travel industry.
In particular, the Government is seeking:
- To maintain reciprocal liberalised aviation access (open skies), cooperation on air traffic management and participation in European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The government also intends to keep liberalised arrangements across other transport modes.
- Visa-free travel for leisure and short-term business trips but does acknowledge this could include reciprocal use of electronic authorisation systems (ETIAS), as part of efforts to streamline border processes.
- Retention of the EHIC – and references this clearly as retention rather than replacement by an equivalent regime.
- An agreement to have reciprocal continuing high levels of consumer protection, underpinned by joint mechanisms for dispute resolution and information exchange.
Negotiations around this are expected to continue and an agreement is being sought between the EU and UK by January 31st, 2020. An agreement would ensure a transition period where current laws and systems remain unchanged.
The government has commenced the issue of “technical notices” about what needs to be done in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit. These will give advice on a range of issues and will set out what preparation is needed, should the talks fail to achieve an agreement. Some of these will relate to the travel industry, and we are expecting the notices to cover areas such as aviation, borders and consumer rights.
We are members of the STF and ABTA and are pleased that those organisations continue to work together and with politicians in Westminster and Europe to advocate a resolution that preserves the structures and rights that have enabled tourism to flourish. In addition, ABTA is carrying out contingency planning in parallel to this, so they can highlight to Members and customers some of the issues they need to think about in connection with a possible ‘no deal’ exit.