A delegation of 13 travel leaders visited 10 Downing Street to urge the government to support the sector through the Brexit process.

Members of the World Travel & Tourism Council called for efforts to maximise the economic and social opportunity of travel and tourism to enhance competitiveness of the UK when it leaves the EU.

They also lobbied for the government to embrace the opportunities of technological innovation, such as the use of biometric technology.

WTTC research shows that travel and tourism contributes 10.5% of the UK’s GDP. The UK travel and tourism sector grew three times faster than the wider economy last year – 5.3% compared to 1.7%.

WTTC members praised the UK government for the country’s commitment to progressive visa policies as a way of attracting tourists.

They urged the government to support the sector through the process of Brexit to maximise the UK’s growth potential and preserve its status as a world tourism leader.

WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said: “The UK is the world’s fifth largest travel and tourism economy and our sector sustains millions of jobs and billions of pounds for the UK economy. Recent growth in UK has been particularly strong for which the government should be commended.

“WTTC’s partnership with the UK government has resulted in today’s delegation of private sector leaders to Number 10 Downing Street to discuss how travel and tourism can be used to continue to drive inward investment and job creation.

“We look forward to extending our partnership to the next level and continuing to support the long-term sustainable growth of the UK travel and tourism sector.

“Part of this growth will come from the most efficient use of existing infrastructure. The UK has an opportunity to lead the world in the adoption of biometric technology in the travel chain. It is vital that we embrace the most modern technology to maximise the use of existing capacity while increasing security and enhancing the traveller journey.”

Hertz International president Michel Taride said: “The United Kingdom is recognised as an engine for innovation in Europe.

“In the travel industry in particular, the UK is at the forefront of the digital transformation and now new start-ups are further accelerating this momentum in mobility and travel.

“There is a great opportunity for the country to continue to enhance its digital leadership after Brexit.”

Arthur de Haast, chairman Global Capital Markets Board and Hotels & Hospitality Group, said: “From a global perspective, the UK is seen as one of the best places in the world to invest due to its world-leading transparency, taxation, and legal system.

“Not only does this status need to be maintained and enhanced after Brexit, but we also need to work hard to make sure that this message is understood globally.”