The UK will lose a staggering £639 million a day during July if international travel remains off limits, according to an open letter to the UK Prime Minister, from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The global tourism body, which represents the global private Travel & Tourism sector, has written to the UK Prime Minister, warning the UK faces a possible £19.8 billion loss if international travel is effectively delayed until August.
Up to 218,000 more jobs in the sector are also at serious risk of being lost, if no action is taken now – in addition to the 307,000 jobs which were lost in the UK last year.
It urged the government to unlock the doors to international travel to avoid inflicting severe long-term damage on the country’s economy – and to prevent putting at risk the competitiveness of the UK’s Travel & Tourism sector.
The letter, signed by WTTC Members including TUI, Expedia, Meliá Hotels, Silversea Cruises, Iberostar, The Travel Corporation and Certares, amongst others, praised the progress made with the highly successful vaccine rollout, which the government should take advantage of, to allow the resumption of safe international travel and reactivate its economy.
It also outlined four steps the government could take immediately, which would provide a critically needed boost to struggling Travel & Tourism businesses up and down the country, fearful that the summer season is slipping away.
Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President WTTC, said: “If international travel remains off limits for the whole of July, WTTC research has shown that every day, the UK would lose a staggering £639 million*, severely delaying the UK’s economic recovery and competitiveness.
“Stalling the resumption of international travel could cost the country dearly. We simply can’t afford any further delay – we are running out of time and money, with many more businesses in danger of going bust, which would result in more jobs losses.
“However, there are steps that the government can take now so that by June 24 when the green list of travel destinations is updated, we can get travel safely moving again, bring certainty to a market begging for stability and help power the economic recovery.
“Only through these measures will the future be brighter for many and will we be able to achieve a long term, inclusive and sustainable recovery. The restoration of free cross-border mobility is essential to help drive the economic recovery from the pandemic.”
WTTC’s open letter to Boris proposes the following four key measures:
- Reopen international travel by allowing fully vaccinated citizens to travel freely without quarantine, both inbound and outbound. They should be able to visit countries with similar vaccination levels and with proven low-infection rates, such as the EU, the US and Canada, through a data-driven transparent approach which will help restore consumer confidence.
- Remove PCR testing requirements for travel from countries on the green list and replace by a rapid test or no test
- Require only one test for those travelling from countries on the amber list of travel destinations. PCR tests are expensive and inconvenient, and their use will continue to deter people from travelling for either business or leisure.
- Set a date to reopen international travel – to be announced on 24 June and implemented by 19 July, in line with the final unlocking of social measures in England.
International visitors to the UK spent £35.6 billion in 2019, generating growth and prosperity across the country, helping to make it the world’s fifth biggest economy in terms of Travel & Tourism GDP.
In 2019, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed 10.1% to the UK’s GDP, and supported 4.3 million jobs, representing 12% of total employment.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic turned this world upside down, devastating the Travel & Tourism sector with 62 million jobs lost globally, while many more remain at risk.