LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should aim to secure visa-free travel between the UK and the European Union in upcoming negotiations to leave the bloc, an association of travel agents said on Tuesday, adding that a transitional deal could also help the sector.
Britain formally began its divorce from the European Union last Wednesday, and airlines have demanded that their sector is prioritised in the forthcoming two years of negotiations to ensure there is no disruption to flights.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said the maintenance of visa-free travel between the EU and UK after Brexit was among its key priorities.
Other goals for ABTA included the protection of Britons' ability to travel freely to Europe and beyond and safeguards for consumer rights, as well as stability and growth opportunities for British businesses.
"Travel and tourism is one of the UK's largest industries and it is vital that the Government makes sure it can continue to thrive during and after the negotiations," said Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA.
The trade body also said a transitional arrangement may be needed, to give consumers certainty given that some holidays are sold a year and a half in advance.
Currently Britain is due to leave the European Union in March 2019, whether or not an agreement over the terms of its departure can be reached.
Unlike trade arrangements, which will default to World Trade Organisation rules if no deal is reached, the aviation sector has "no international fall-back option," the ABTA report said.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout, editing by Pritha Sarkar)