Published on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

UK outbound travel to 'decrease significantly' this year

UK outbound travel will drop and domestic travel will slow down this year, but tourism is well placed to ride the Brexit storm, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The UK travel and tourism sector is expected to hold up in 2017, despite continued uncertainty over Brexit, reduced consumer spending power, and the weaker pound, according to WTTC's Economic Impact Report 2017.

With the fall in value of the pound after the Brexit vote, visitor exports (money spent by foreign visitors in a country) is forecast to grow by 6.2% this year, as a result of the UK having become a cheaper destination for overseas visitors.

In 2016, business and leisure travel's total contribution to the UK economy rose by 2.6% to £209 billion or 10.8% of GDP.

The sector supported over 4 million jobs, 11.9% of the country's total employment, according to the research.

The economic impact of the Brexit vote is expected to have diverging implications for domestic and international business and leisure travel spending in 2017.

Whilst the spending of international visitors is expected to increase, domestic and outbound spend in the UK will suffer.

Due to higher inflation and weakened consumer spending prospects, the domestic spending outlook for 2017 has been downgraded from 3.2% to 2.6%.

Outbound expenditure is forecast to decrease significantly in 2017 (-4.2%), as the drop in value of the pound will continue to impact UK citizens' spending power and their propensity to holiday abroad.

WTTC president and CEO David Scowsill said: "There is still widespread uncertainty on the exact impact Brexit will have on the travel and tourism sector."

He called on the UK Government to focus on mobility of labour; protect visa-free travel; remain part of the European Single Aviation Market and invest in processes, systems and infrastructure to meet demand among increasing numbers of travellers coming into the country.

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