WTTC: Tourism drop could remove £22bn from UK economy

UK: The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) have suggested that the drop in international tourism caused by Covid-19 could cause a £22 billion loss of spending in the UK economy.

The group have noted that uncertainty around travel restrictions in the UK and abroad have led to a decline in travel internationally.

An impact assessment done by the council has estimated that the reduction in tourists could lead to a 78 per cent decrease in spending of £420 million per week. This is a significant drop, as 17 per cent of total UK tourism spending came from international tourists.

Gloria Guevara, the president and chief executive of the WTTC, told The Guardian: “The lack of international travel caused by the pandemic could wipe out more than £22 billion from the UK economy alone, a loss of £60 million a day, from which it could take years to recover. It could also threaten London’s position as one of the world’s premier hubs for business and leisure travel, which could see other destinations take over.”

Guevara further criticised the “stop-start” quarantine measures introduced by the government, and lack of test and trace at international entry points. Since creating its initial travel green list, the government has reimposed quarantine mandates on Spain, France and Portugal, quickly cutting out arrivals.

She added: “This investment will be significantly less than the impact of blunt quarantines, which have devastating and far-reaching social-economic consequences. Targeted test and tracing will also rebuild consumer confidence to travel.”

A worst-case scenario predicted by WTTC research alleges that 3 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector may be wiped out by this drop. The UK tourism sector employs approximately 4 million, making up 11 per cent of the total workforce and nine per cent of economic output.

London could be particularly hurt, as 85 per cent of tourism spending in the capital was from international visitors. Some industries have already been affected in the city as many short-term rentals have returned to the traditional market.

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