The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) urged the UK government “not to lose focus” on travel and tourism after forecasting the sector would grow by 4% this year in Britain, outpacing growth in the economy as a whole.
The WTTC published its annual economic impact assessment today, predicting UK travel and tourism would raise its contribution to GDP by 4% this year against forecast economic growth of 2.9%.
The Council put UK jobs growth in travel and tourism at 2%.
The WTTC estimates the industry contributed almost £188 billion to UK GDP in 2014 and accounted for 4.2 million jobs when “indirect and induced impacts” are included alongside the direct impact on the economy.
But the GDP contribution could increase to £195 billion by the end of 2015 or “almost 11% of UK GDP and 13% of total employment”.
However, WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill warned Britain could lose its position as the world’s fifth-largest travel and tourism economy without government action.
He urged the next government “to take three major steps” to ensure the sector continues to grow.
Scowsill said: “First, there is a need to make visa applications easier, particularly for high-spending Chinese travellers.
“Second, the Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax, which remains among the highest in the world, must be reformed.
“Third, a decision must be taken quickly on addressing the chronic under-supply of airport capacity in the South East.”
The WTTC further warned the UK sector could employ 352,000 fewer people and contribute £17 billion less in GDP over the next 10 years if the government and industry fail to implement policies to recruit and manage talent.
WTTC research suggests the UK’s travel and tourism sector faces a major human-resource challenge and severe skills shortage by 2024.
Scowsill said: “Travel and tourism has the potential to contribute five million jobs to the British economy by 2025.
“However, this growth will not happen by itself. It needs progressive and coordinated government policies across the sector.”
The WTTC report Global Talent Trends and Issues for the Travel and Tourism Sector can be found here: http://www.wttc.org/research/policy-research/human-capital/global-talent-trends/
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