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Published on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Three million UK travel jobs at risk


Some £22 billion could be lost from the UK economy due to the collapse of international travel in 2020, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

This year international visitor spending could plunge by 78% compared to 2019, equating to a loss of £60 million a day, or £420 million a week.

Nearly three million jobs in the UK supported by travel and tourism are at risk of being lost in a 'worst case' scenario mapped out by WTTC economic modelling.

According to its 2020 Economic Impact Report, travel and tourism was responsible for almost four million UK jobs, or 11% of the country's total workforce, last year. It accounted for nearly £200 billion GDP, or 9%  of UK economy.

WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara warned '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," she added.

"We urgently need to replace stop-start quarantine measures with rapid, comprehensive and cost-effective 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 and far-reaching 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.

"A quick turnaround test and trace system in place for all departing passengers means the government could consider reinstating travel between the UK and major international hubs."

Gloria said restoring business travel between the world's top financial centres, including London and New York, would kick-start the economic global recovery.

WTTC claims international travel spend in the UK reached almost £28.2 billion last year, accounting for 17% of the total tourism spend in the UK. Domestic travel spending was responsible for the other 83%.

Between 2016 and 2018, the largest inbound source markets to the UK were the US and France, each accounting for 10% of all international arrivals, with Germany coming in third with 9%, and Ireland and Spain in joint fourth place with 7% each.

Data for 2018, which is the most up-to-date available, shows how dependent London is on international visitors who accounted for 85% of all tourism spending in the city, with domestic tourists making up the remaining 15%.

The US was the most important source market for the city with 15% of arriving visitors, with France in second place with 9% of arrivals, Germany in third place with 8% of arrivals, and Spain in fourth position with 7%.

According to WTTC, travel and tourism is responsible for one in 10 jobs, 330 million in total.

By Linsey McNeill, Editor (UK)

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