The boss of Momondo Group believes opportunity lies in the discussions sparked by Brexit.
Speaking at Web in Travel’s first European conference on Thursday, Hugo Burge expressed his shock at the outcome of last week’s referendum.
But he said it was important to keep looking forward and that it was a “coincidence” that Momondo’s new campaign, the DNA Journey, has launched at the same time as Brexit.
The DNA Journey allows users to “discover how they are connected to the rest of the world”.
The promotional material states: We only have one world, but it’s divided.
“We tend to think that there are more things dividing us than uniting us…we hope the DNA Journey will inspire you to explore your own diversity and discover how you are connected to the rest of the world.”
The campaign’s promotional video has been viewed more than 120 million time on Facebook and YouTube.
“We believe that an open world is a better world, that travel opens it up and we’re very proud to be part of that,” said Burge.
“I was deeply surprised at the result [of the referendum] but I’m an entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneurial DNA is about positivity and adapting to change.
“I feel deeply uncomfortable about the divisive and populist positions on both sides of the argument.
“I’m an optimist and a pragmatist and I believe that this is an opportunity to stay positive and constructive.
“The last thing we need is people who want to draw up the drawbridges or close down opportunity or become insular – this is precisely the wrong time for those views to prevail.
“This piece of work represents lucky timing in some ways – it’s taken a long time to come to fruition.”
Burge said in some “selfish” ways the Brexit discussion has been helpful.
“It’s clarified some things,” he said. “For us in the short term it’s very positive.
“We’re an international global business, the pound has weakened, our USA revenues went up 10% overnight.
“Do we want to be part of the common market? Yes of course. But was Britain ever really part of a European project to become part of a European political system?
“We didn’t adopt the euro, so there were question marks around our role in Europe that hadn’t been discussed in this country. At least now I think there’s some clarity.
“Europe is incredibly important to Britain and Britain isn’t going to turn its back on it, that would be insane.
“Difficult negotiations will take place between the two. But there are mutual interests – I don’t think that much will change.
“In some ways I think it clarifies Britain’s position for the moment on where it stands.
“Britain has a long history of being a trading nation and outward looking, trading with all part of the world.
“Do we want to distance ourselves from Europe? No.
“Does it clarify our relationship with Europe, and can we clarify it? Yes I think there’s an opportunity to be positive.”