The UK travel and tourism sector is expected to create nearly 700,000 new jobs over the next decade, new data projects.
The forecast by the World Travel & Tourism Council shows an average of 70,000 new jobs will be created every year for the next ten years.
The UK’s contribution from the sector to GDP is forecast to grow at an average rate of 3% annually between 2022-32.
This is almost twice the 1.7% growth rate of the overall economy and is set to reach more than £286 billion – 10.1% of the total economy.
The sector’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow nearly two thirds (62.7%) to nearly £214 billion by the end of the year, amounting to 8.9% of the total economic GDP.
But employment in the sector is set to rise by only 0.5%, to reach just over four million jobs.
When travel and tourism was at its peak in pre-pandemic 2019, international visitor spending in the UK reached £36.4 billion.
However, the total spend plummeted to just £3.9 billion last year as the UK continued to struggle to attract visitors as the Covid-19 crisis continued around the world.
Before the pandemic, the sector’s contribution to GDP was 9.9% (£234.5 billion) in 2019, collapsing back to just 4.3% (£93.8 billion) in 2020, which represented a 60% loss above the global impact of 50%.
The latest WTTC economic impact report also reveals that 2021 saw the slow beginning of the recovery for the UK’s travel and tourism sector.
Its contribution to GDP climbed 40.3% year on year, to reach more than £131 billion, still well below 2019 levels.
The sector’s modest recovery was underlined by the creation of less than 16,000 new jobs, to reach 4.11 million, which is still some 170,000 jobs fewer than before the pandemic
Contribution to the economy could have been higher if not for the impact of the Omicron variant, which led to the recovery faltering around the world, with many countries reinstating travel restrictions.
WTTC president chief executive Julia Simpson said: “Over the long term the future looks bright for the revival of the UK travel and tourism sector, but in the short term, international visitor spend is so low it is hampering the country’s economic recovery.
“After two years of economic damage to the sector, the UK government continues to take this sector for granted. There has been no focus or understanding of how critical travel and tourism is to the UK economy.
“Smart countries are investing overseas to get visitors back. Travel and tourism can contribute 10% to the economy and yet it is not even discussed at senior levels. The UK will lose out to other European destinations if this isn’t addressed urgently.”