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Published on Thursday, April 8, 2021

WTTC research points to staggering loss for UK travel and tourism sector

Latest WTTC research shows a massive impact on UK GDP due to the collapse of travel and tourism.

The World Travel & Tourism Council's annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) revealed that the Covid pandemic led to a staggering £148 billion loss to the UK economy.

The travel sector's contribution to GDP dropped by 62.3%.

Travel  and tourism GDP fell from £238 billion (10.1%) in 2019 before the pandemic struck, to just £90 billion (4.2%) 12 months later in 2020.

A year of crippling travel restrictions and ineffective hotel quarantines, which have brought international travel to a grinding halt, resulted in the loss of 307,000 travel reletaed jobs across the country.

However, WTTC believes the true picture could be significantly worse, if not for government fiscal and liquidity incentives, as well as furlough and job protection schemes. 

Across all sectors they are estimated to be currently protecting more than 11 million jobs, which hides the true extent of the losses.

According to latest figures, the UK government is estimated to have spent more than £46 billion on job retention schemes, with that figure expected to rise to £80 billion by the time the various programmess end in October 2021.

The number of those employed in the UK travel and tourism sector fell from 4.27 million in 2019, to 3.96 million in 2020 - a fall of 7.2%.

The report also revealed domestic visitor spending declined by 63.2% due to nationwide lockdowns.

International spending fared even worse, with a fall of 71.6%.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO WTTC, said: "The loss of more than 300,000 travel and tourism jobs across the UK has had a devastating socio-economic impact, leaving huge numbers of people fearing for their future."

"But the situation could have been far worse if it were not for the government's prompt action, which introduced job retention schemes to save millions of jobs under threat."

"There are grounds for optimism if the UK's world-leading vaccine rollout continues at pace and travel restrictions are relaxed just before the busy summer season," Guevara added.

 "WTTC believes that another year of terrible losses can be avoided if the government supports the swift resumption of international travel, which will be vital to powering the turnaround of the UK economy."

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