Global travel slump risks £22bn hit to UK econ­omy

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Rus­sell Lynch

COL­LAPS­ING in­ter­na­tional travel could cost the UK econ­omy £22bn this year and put three mil­lion jobs at risk, the World Travel & Tourism Coun­cil has warned.

Its lat­est as­sess­ment of the im­pact of Covid-19 on tourism said spend­ing by in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors could plunge by al­most 80pc com­pared with 2019 – equat­ing to a loss of £60m a day, or £420m a week, to the econ­omy.

The coun­cil’s lat­est eco­nomic im­pact re­port said the £200bn travel and tourism sec­tor was re­spon­si­ble for al­most 4m UK jobs – or 11pc of the work­force – last year. Of­fice for Na­tional Statis­tics fig­ures showed that tourists spent £28bn in 40.9m vis­its to Bri­tain in 2019. The or­gan­i­sa­tion warned the sec­tor was be­ing ham­mered by “stop­start” quar­an­tine mea­sures for over­seas vis­i­tors, who ac­count for 17pc of the coun­try’s to­tal tourism spend­ing.

De­spite a short-lived re­open­ing ear­lier in the sum­mer, ris­ing in­fec­tion rates in Europe have seen quar­an­tines reim­posed for sev­eral coun­tries, and tourists are stay­ing away be­cause of con­tin­u­ing un­cer­tainty around travel re­stric­tions de­signed to curb the spread of coro­n­avirus.

The WTTC’s “worst-case” sce­nario has more than 3m jobs be­ing lost in the sec­tor this year, ac­cord­ing to Glo­ria Gue­vara, its chief ex­ec­u­tive.

She said: “We ur­gently need to re­place stop-start quar­an­tine mea­sures with rapid, com­pre­hen­sive and cost­ef­fec­tive test and trace pro­grammes at de­par­ture points across the coun­try.

“This in­vest­ment will be sig­nif­i­cantly less than the im­pact of blunt quar­an­tines, which have dev­as­tat­ing … so­cio-eco­nomic con­se­quences.

“Tar­geted test and trac­ing will also re­build con­sumer con­fi­dence to travel. It will en­able the restora­tion of vi­tal ‘air cor­ri­dors’ be­tween coun­tries and re­gions with sim­i­lar Covid-19 case rates.”

Ms Gue­vara warned that Lon­don – a mag­net for for­eign vis­i­tors – was par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble and called for the restora­tion of busi­ness travel be­tween the world’s top fi­nan­cial cen­tres, such as Lon­don and New York, to help the global re­cov­ery.

In 2018, in­ter­na­tional visi­tor spend­ing ac­counted for 85pc of all tourism spend­ing in the cap­i­tal.

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