Government urged to recognise importance of travel and tourism to economy

The government has been urged to recognise the importance of hospitality, tourism and travel to the wider economy. 

The call came as the UK travel sector showed the biggest change in exports in the first quarter of the year, according to latest official figures.

Travel exports represented the largest growth category, increasing by £700 million over the previous three months, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

Both the import and export of travel services increased in the first three months of the year.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls hailed the GDP figures, released on Friday, as “an indication that we are beginning to see the light at the end of a long tunnel for the wider economy, which will hopefully embolden consumer confidence and, in turn, improve the fortunes of hospitality businesses”.

She said: “These figures also make clear the importance of travel and tourism as an export product, which was the single biggest positive change in this data.

“However, hospitality GDP remained flat in the first quarter and that is reflective of the cost challenges the sector continues to face. We need to see the cost burden for the sector rebalanced and reduced so businesses have the ability to invest in their business and grow.

“Harnessing the potential of hospitality, tourism and travel, both at home and abroad, can really deliver on the economic ambitions of the nation, and it’s crucial the government recognises the strategic importance of our sector.

“All of this can combine to give businesses the confidence and financial headroom they need to invest in their businesses, which will drive economic growth, create jobs and encourage regeneration of our towns and cities.”

Abta has long argued that outbound travel is a significant driver of growth to the UK economy.  

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