As the United Kingdom grapples with political uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Britain’s tourism industry is attempting to survive and thrive.
The chances of the country leaving the European Union without a deal seem slim, but a prolonged period of uncertainty, including a possible second referendum, will have huge economic consequences. Potential summer tourists are worried that the post-Brexit plans, which range from proposed border checks to access for goods, could deter them from traveling in May and June.
As concern mounts, the British overseas territory of Gibraltar has experienced its worst economic downturn since the height of the last recession in 2008. According to a report from The Telegraph, the territory’s economy has taken a 60 percent hit since 2012. More than 6,000 people lost their jobs last year.
Tourism experts say the crisis was inevitable: As the territory has served as a battleground for Spain and Britain’s historical stance toward Europe, Spain has taken control of the South Bank – the main crossing into Gibraltar – with a view to creating a north-south crossing.
Gibraltar is crucial to the local economy. Trade between Gibraltar and Spain accounted for almost 14 percent of that country’s GDP in 2015. By comparison, trade with the United Kingdom accounted for about 2 percent of Spain’s economy in 2016.
“The figures just show how important the British overseas territory is to Gibraltar,” the Telegraph reports. “Without it, Gibraltar could not keep its government running, the civic council functioning, key public services operating and vital infrastructure maintained.”