What a Labor government could mean for your holidays – for better or for worse

Do you think the 4th of July is just another day in the sprint towards your summer vacation? Think again. The general election could impact the way we travel, especially if Labor wins as the polls currently predict.

Here are eight ways a Labor government could affect your holiday.

More tourist taxes in the offing?

The Welsh government, currently a minority Labor government led by First Minister Vaughan Gething, has made efforts to give local councils the power to charge extra for overnight stays. The tax, the report says, will generate revenue that will be pumped directly into the tourism sector.

However, some restaurant and hotel owners have argued that, following the Brexit and Covid battles, plus the ongoing cost of living crisis, a tourist tax could have a negative impact on visitor numbers.

Labor Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has also introduced a £1 visitor charge or “City Visitor Charge”, raising £2.8 million in a year for street cleaning and marketing campaigns. Chester, a Labor majority council, has also recently introduced a £2 per night accommodation tax to fund tourism events and improve visitor services.

starring Vaughan Gething

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething on the seafront in Abergavenny last week – PA

Tougher penalties for parents who take children on holiday?

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has spoken out against parents taking their children out of school to go on holiday. This came after a record number of 399,000 parents were fined by local authorities last year for unauthorized absences from school.

“I think parents who choose to take their children out of school for holidays, outings or where it is not necessary should think seriously, because it damages children’s life chances. They only get one chance at school, they only get one childhood,” she said on the BBC Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg program in January.

“For parents facing additional challenges and for children facing additional challenges, a new Labor government will ensure we provide the support needed to address that.”

Speaking at the Center for Social Justice, Phillipson said a Labor government would introduce annual inspections of school funds for the first time, to tackle absenteeism and other problems facing schools: “Cheaper holidays, birthday treats, no sense in today These are not excuses to miss school,” she said.

Current Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she wants to “rebuild the social contract between parents and schools and ensure everyone plays their part” and has introduced a £15 million mentoring program to help 3,600 struggling children.

Airport expansions?

Sir Keir Starmer has spoken sympathetically about plans for a second runway at Gatwick Airport. During a visit to the area in February 2024, Starmer said: “Having grown up in these parts, I know exactly what an important hub Gatwick is for passengers going in and out of the country.

“It is a huge source of work for all the local communities around here. It is very important and we should never lose sight of that. We will have to make decisions within government about what we do about airport expansion and what the competing arguments are.”

Asked whether he would support a second runway, Sir Keir said: “We will review the situation as we go into the election. I am a big supporter of Gatwick.” It is unclear whether Starmer’s Labor would support a third runway at Heathrow: in 2018 he joined 93 other Labor MPs in voting against proposals, although 119 Labor MPs backed the plans and the Unite union also backs the runway, calling for it to be ‘fundamental ‘.

Gatwick airportGatwick airport

Starmer says he is a ‘big supporter of Gatwick’ and has spoken sympathetically about plans for a second runway – Alamy

Interestingly, Labour’s 4,000-word, thirteen-page environmental policy makes little mention of airport and aviation expansion, with the exception of one line which reads:[We] ensuring that any airport expansion meets our tests, which must address noise issues, protect air quality, meet the UK’s climate change obligations and support growth across the country.”

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – which manages Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands and is owned by a consortium of Labour-controlled councils in Greater Manchester – has plans to increase passenger numbers. Luton Airport, also owned by the Labour-run Luton Borough Council, also has expansion plans.

A more favorable exchange rate?

While markets generally favor continuity over change, history shows that governments elected by large majorities can imply stability, which can in turn make the pound more attractive – even if only temporarily. Last week a money expert predicted a three percent rise in the value of sterling if Labor were to come to power.

Jasmine Birtles, CEO of personal finance website MoneyMagpie, told The Independent: “A Labor victory with a large majority implies some stability, making the pound more attractive to investors – at least for a few months. Numbers are very difficult because there are so many variables, but if I had to pick one out of the air, I would say an increase of three percent.”

On the other hand, the weeks leading up to elections can be precarious times for exchange rates. So if you’re willing to gamble on a Labor victory, you might want to wait to redeem your travel money until after July 4, as exchange rates are likely to be more favorable after the election than they are now.

Higher taxes on private jets?

In a blog on labour.org.uk in January 2024, the party pointed out that the Conservative government had increased Air Passenger Duty (APD – more on that later), but the charge on private jet travel remained frozen.

“This stunning hypocrisy shows once again that Rishi Sunak is out of touch and simply cannot understand the concerns of the ordinary voters he claims to represent,” the Labor blog post said. Starmer was in turn accused of hypocrisy after allegedly taking a £25,000 private jet owned by the Qatari government while attending a climate summit in the Middle East.

Still, given the tone of this official blog post and the fact that Labor has previously hinted at a complete ban on private jets, it would not be a surprise if levies on private jets were to rise under a Labor government.

A protest against private jet flights in JanuaryA protest against private jet flights in January

A protest against private jet flights in Farnborough on January 27 – Getty

Cheaper flights from regional airports?

Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a surcharge added to economy tickets for departures from the UK and is £7 for domestic flights and £14 for short-haul journeys, increasing for longer flights and premium cabins. Some argue that this puts regional airports at a disadvantage.

“Things are always going well for London, but where the UK APD is causing untold damage is at regional UK airports,” said Ryanair Chief Commercial Officer Jason McGuinness. “We allocate capacity based on just one metric: cost. [UK regional airports] now have a huge disadvantage compared to their European competitors.”

Speaking at an aviation conference in November 2023, Mike Kane, Labour’s shadow minister for aviation and maritime affairs, hinted at a change to the APD. “I am sure that on the horizon we will be looking at how we can make our regional airports competitive in an environment where they are currently disadvantaged,” he told delegates.

Better WiFi (and cleaner toilets) on the rails?

One of Labour’s key election promises is to press ahead with plans to introduce a new government agency, Great British Railways, which will take charge of the country’s rail infrastructure and operations. This concept appeared in a different guise under the Prime Ministership of Boris Johnson, when Grant Shapps was Transport Secretary.

What renationalisation of the railways looks like for passengers, according to Labor, is a more reliable timetable system based on the Swiss model of coordinating travel between different modes. They also promise a simpler ticket pricing structure, plus automatic compensation and digital subscriptions. On board, passengers are told they’ll find better-functioning power outlets, more reliable onboard Wi-Fi and – an election winner if you’ve ever seen one – cleaner toilets.

However, Labor has failed to secure cheaper fares. At a press conference in April, shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “I cannot set out today that we will cut fares. But we have said that we will simplify them, that we will make them more accessible, more transparent and more reliable for passengers.”

A stricter approach to second homes and Airbnbs?

In a parliamentary debate on 23 May 2023, Shadow Cabinet member Luke Pollard said: “There are too many people in rural and coastal communities, like those I represent in Plymouth, being driven from their homes. and see those homes immediately turned into Airbnbs at astronomical rates.”

Pollard’s First Homes not Second Homes proposal calls for higher taxes on holiday rentals and unused second homes, a licensing regime for second homes and a Community Infrastructure Levy (read: tourist tax) to support local businesses.

The Conservatives have also taken steps to manage the impact of the housing platform on local communities. Michael Gove announced in February this year that all second home owners who want to rent out their properties on Airbnb will have to obtain planning permission from this summer, and Rishi Sunak has made noise about punishing anti-social behavior in Airbnb properties.

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