UK travel sector set for Covid recovery this year

The UK travel and tourism sector is forecast to exceed the pre-Covid 2019 peak this year.

The sector is set to contribute £252.4 billion to the UK economy, surpassing the 2019 pre-pandemic high of £248.5 billion, according to new World Travel & Tourism Council research.

The economic impact study suggests that the sector will also create almost 380,000 jobs this year, recovering almost all of the positions lost due to the pandemic to reach more than four million.

This would mean around one in nine workers in the UK employed in travel and tourism.

Meanwhile, international visitor spend to the UK is projected to reach £26.18 billion, just 6% behind the 2019 peak of £38.6 billion.

Last year the sector also created 1.1 million more jobs from 2021 to reach 3.6 million – one in ten jobs across the UK.

WTTC president and chief executive Julia Simpson said: “Travel and tourism creates one in every ten jobs in the UK. It contributes over £250 billion a year to the UK economy.

“Whilst our forecasts show the sector will reach a quarter of a trillion pounds this year, and predicts international visitor spend will recover by early next year, the UK government should be aiming higher.

“The recovery and long-term growth of the sector is at risk with the self-axing of  VAT-free shopping for international tourists. 

“We will continue to see high-value tourists choosing France and Italy over the UK and taking with them economic value and jobs.”

The global tourism body forecasts that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to almost £315 billion by 2033, nearly 11% of the UK economy and will employ over five million people across the country, with one in seven working in the sector.

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