Travel restrictions led to greater GDP losses in the UK than in many European neighbours – and worse could follow, warns the World Travel & Tourism Council.
According to data from Oxford Economics, the UK is facing a GDP loss of 10% in 2020, while Germany will see a loss of 5.3%.
The WTTC said: “The data suggests that the latest UK government policy to introduce a new triple-test regime, and 10-day quarantine for all UK arrivals, could cause even greater damage to the UK economy.”
It claims the travel restrictions have been a significant factor in causing the UK’s economy to be hit twice as hard as many of its European neighbours.
Research by WTTC shows that while the UK has been constantly changing its policies and restrictions, countries such as Germany were more consistent with policies, and quicker to implement a massive testing programme, which saw it isolate and control cases much earlier than the UK.
Furthermore, the UK imposed quarantine restrictions on people travelling from key countries such as France, Spain, Greece and others, whilst Germany kept borders open to EU member states since the beginning of summer.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “WTTC welcomes the mass testing of all inbound travellers to the UK. But we are concerned the UK could face a steeper climb back to full economic health unless a clear exit strategy is in place to restore international mobility.
“We have been calling on the UK government to introduce a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective test on departure and arrival scheme for many months, which would avoid the risk of further transmission while enabling mobility.
“We believe the impact of constantly shifting policies on testing, quarantines, and the placing of countries in so-called high-risk ‘red zones’, will jeopardise the return of a sector which contributes nearly £200 billion annually to the UK economy.
“This research suggests that countries which have imposed harmful blanket quarantines will suffer greater GDP loss, and this is certainly the case when we compare the UK to Germany.
“We must applaud the incredible progress made by the UK government on the rollout of vaccines across the country, which could see it surpass its target of inoculating a staggering 15 million people.
“However, the UK travel and tourism sector is in a fight for survival and without a clear exit strategy to these restrictions, the economic damage will continue to be significant and the sector could face complete collapse.”
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