Global travel slump risks £22bn hit to UK economy
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.