A historical referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU takes place today (Thursday), with thousands of expatriates registering their opinions by voting through the postal system or by proxy vote.
The vote has gripped not just British residents, but the whole world, with Alicante Province having a lot at stake; hoteliers and the tourism sector are unsure of what will happen if a Brexit occurs.
Around 7 per cent of the GDP of the province, about €2.34 billion, depends on trade and the arrival of tourists from the British Isles, according to the Institute of Economic Studies of the Province (INECA).
“A departure of the UK from the EU could lead to a devaluation of the pound and an increase in inflation and, therefore, the British lose purchasing power and would have less money to spend here or to buy our products,” said the president of the institute who, in the days leading up to the vote, invited the British residing in the province to campaign for permanence.
According to INECA, they estimate around 1.8 million British tourists each year visit the Costa Blanca, staying in hotels or their own homes. The sale of houses to British buyers represented €375 million last year, which INECA fears could be at risk “because if the pound falls, it would be more expensive for the British to buy them.”
However, not everyone is concerned about what could happen if the UK does vote to leave the EU: “There has been a lot of scaremongering but I don’t think it will affect us,” said Barry Horsfield who believes voting to leave is better for the UK. He was being interviewed by a film crew, one of a number visiting the area in recent weeks to determine the feelings of potential voters, as the world prepares to see whether the voting public wants in or out, and the impact the result will have.