The UK travel industry is ‘running out of time and money’ with delays to the resumption of international travel set to cost the UK a staggering £639 million a day during July if international travel remains off limits, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
In open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson – signed by WTTC members including TUI, Silversea Cruises and The Travel Corporation – the global tourism body has warned this would amount to a possible £19.8 billion loss if international travel is effectively delayed until August.
It also says up to 218,000 more jobs in the sector are at serious risk of being lost, if no action is taken now – in addition to the 307,000 jobs which were lost in the UK last year.
Virginia Messina, WTTC senior vice-president, said: “If international travel remains off limits for the whole of July, WTTC research has shown that every day, the UK would lose a staggering £639 million, ,severely delaying the UK’s economic recovery and competitiveness.
“Stalling the resumption of international travel until August could cost the country dearly. We simply can’t afford any further delay – we are running out of time and money, with many businesses facing going bust if international travel doesn’t resume in July.
“However, there are steps that the government can take now so that by June 24 when the green list of travel destinations is updated, we can get travel safely moving again, bring certainty to a market begging for stability and help power the economic recovery.
“Only through these measures will the future be brighter for many and will we be able to achieve a long term, inclusive and sustainable recovery. The restoration of free cross-border mobility is essential to help drive the economic recovery from the pandemic.”
In the letter the WTTC calls on Mr Boris Johnson to reopen international travel by allowing fully vaccinated citizens to travel freely without quarantine. It says they should be able to visit countries with similar vaccination levels and with proven low-infection rates, such as the EU, the US and Canada, through a data-driven transparent approach which will help restore consumer confidence.
It calls for the removal of all unnecessary testing requirements for travel from countries on the green list.
It asks for just one test for those travelling from countries on the amber list of travel destinations, claiming PCR tests are expensive and inconvenient, and their use will continue to deter people from travelling for either business or leisure
And it urges the PM to set a date to reopen international travel – to be announced on June 24 and implemented by July 19 at the latest, in line with the final unlocking of social measures in England.
The WTTC said international visitors to the UK spent £35.6 billion in 2019. In 2019, the travel and tourism sector contributed 10.1% to the UK’s GDP, and supported 4.3 million jobs, representing 12% of total employment.
The £639 million-a-day figure is based on WTTC’s 2019 UK Economic Impact Report (EIR) data.