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Brexit bureaucracy damaging tourism, warns Lord Montagu

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CONFUSING and bureaucratic post-Brexit rules are affecting local tourist businesses as foreign exhibitors steer clear of Beaulieu motoring events, Lord Montagu has warned.

In his annual speech at the Beaulieu Estate dinner, Lord Montagu said that a combination of Covid travel restrictions and extra red tape was impacting the number of international sellers who take part in a number of large events this summer, such as the Supercar Weekend and International Autojumble.

He said: “Unfortunately, [Covid restrictions] were not the only deterrent. It is clear that the convoluted and bureaucratic import-export regulations that have come in since Brexit are putting many of our continental exhibitors off coming.

Lord Montagu outside Palace House in Beaulieu
Lord Montagu outside Palace House in Beaulieu

“The providers of local accommodation also noticed a drop in demand.”

It emerged the attraction is now seeking to clarify the new rules to put in place an easy-to-follow system for overseas exhibitors.

Lord Montagu warned: “The situation as it affects our international events is just one example of how Brexit, even with what is supposed to be a free trade agreement, is impacting the economy at local level, as well as breaking ties with valued customers from the other side of the channel.”

Turning to the impact of Covid on Beaulieu, Lord Montagu revealed the attraction had closed for a total of 273 days, leading to a major loss of income and the furloughing of many staff.

He said: “Sadly, all our large events for last year had to be cancelled but we were able to continue with our Simply drive-ins and a Motoring in Miniature exhibition in the Motor Museum.

“I had the pleasure of augmenting this with a display of my own Matchbox toy car collection in Palace House.”

One of the first major events to go ahead after Beaulieu reopened in mid-May this year was the BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair – a three-day sell-out show in which Fairweather’s Garden Centre, based in the village, won the best border competition.

Other highlights included an outdoor sculpture exhibition and new elements to the Bond In Motion exhibition to coincide with the release of the new 007 film, No Time to Die.

Turning to the future Lord Montagu revealed that the National Motor Museum Trust was currently undergoing a period of strategic change which started in 2020 with the recruitment of several new trustees and a new chief executive, Jon Murden.

Lord Montagu said: “One of the priorities will be the future of mobility, looking beyond the era of the internal combustion engine, a theme which inspired our first event this year, Simply Electric, at which we welcomed nearly 300 electric vehicles.”

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