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UK travel and tourism sector may only recover by a third this year, says WTTC

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

WTTC states the strict travel restrictions, such as the ‘traffic light’ system, is responsible.

At the current rate of recovery, WTTC research shows 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 increase in domestic travel, with domestic spending growth set to experience a year on year rise of 49% in 2021.

While this surge in domestic travel has provided a much-needed boost, it will not be enough to achieve a full economic recovery.

The research reveals that international spending is predicted to decline by nearly 50% on 2020 figures.

Julia Simpson (pictured), president & CEO, WTTC, said: “WTTC research shows that while the global Travel & 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.”

Looking ahead to 2022, with the right measures and a focus on international travel, the UK could see travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP rise by 53% in 2022, resulting in an additional £66bn to its economy.

International visitor spending could also see a significant increase reaching £29bn, just 20% below 2019 levels. Meanwhile, employment growth could see a 14% boost year on year, equating to additional 580,000 jobs in 2022.