Travel & tourism may only recover by a third this year, says WTTC

The UK’s travel and tourism sector’s year-on-year recovery may only claw back by a third, whilst international travel spending continues to plummet, according to The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The latest research from WTTC, which represents the sector, shows that recovery has been “severely delayed” by the lack of spending from international visitors. WTTC blames strict travel restrictions, such as the “destructive” ‘traffic light’ system, for “wreaking havoc” on the sector.

As such, the WTTC added that despite its highly successful vaccine rollout, the UK is set to record further losses in inbound visitor spending than the previous year, during which international travel ground to an almost complete standstill.

At the current rate of recovery, the UK’s Travel and Tourism sector’s contribution to the nation’s economy could rise year on year by just under a third (32%) in 2021, broadly in line with the global average of 30.7%.

However, research conducted by the global tourism body goes on to show the increase has been primarily spurred on by the recent boom in domestic travel, with domestic spending growth set to experience a year on year rise of 49% in 2021.

While providing a “much-needed boost”, it will not be enough to achieve a full economic recovery and “save millions of jobs still under threat”, the body has warned.

The research reveals that international spending is predicted to plunge by nearly 50% on 2020 figures – one of the worst years on record – making the UK one of the worst performing countries in the world.

The WTTC said this is in comparison to other countries, such as China and the U.S., which are set to see a rise in inbound international travel spending this year.

Last year, the UK Travel & Tourism sector saw 307,000 job losses across the country and research shows that jobs in the sector are set to remain flat this year.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said: “WTTC research shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.

“Despite government announcements the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day two tests which simply put people off travel. Just as the world opens up the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.”

However, with the right measures and a “strong focus on international travel”, WTTC has predicted the UK could see travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP rise by 53% in 2022, resulting in an additional £66bn to its economy.

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