The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned that nearly £27bn will be lost from the UK economy if the government delays restarting international travel until May 17.
According to the government’s roadmap to recovery, two households will be able to mix outdoors from March 29, WTTC believes this should “signal the restart” of safe international travel.
The council has suggested that resuming international travel seven weeks earlier, to coincide the Easter holiday break, could save struggling travel and tourism businesses up and down the country and provide a “much-needed” economic boost to the economy.
WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, expressed its fear that delaying the revival of international travel for another seven weeks, will “hasten the further slide into collapse” of a sector which contributes £200bn annually to the UK economy, and is responsible for almost four million jobs.
The council has estimated that the loss of almost £27bn represents a “damaging daily drain” to the UK economy of more than £550m, which can be counted in lost jobs and failed businesses throughout the UK.
While the WTTC has applauded the government’s “highly successful” vaccine rollout, the global tourism body has called upon the prime minister to give “greater clarity” about what May 17 will look like, so that the industry can prepare for the restart.
Gloria Guevara, president and CEO, WTTC, said: “Our economic modelling shows the brutal impact the £27bn loss could have, caused by delaying the restart of international travel by just seven weeks.
“It would be far less economically damaging to invest in testing and biometric technology which could safely reopen the doors to travel and save the millions of jobs at risk. But every day we delay will see many more cash-strapped businesses join the growing list of companies which have already disappeared due to the demise of international travel.”
She added: “Nor should we forget the human cost and the terrible suffering of so many people whose very livelihoods have been left in ruins due to the sector’s virtual collapse.”