Nearly three million UK travel industry jobs look set to be lost because of the “confusing patchwork” of bans, quarantines and uncoordinated testing, warns the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Less than two months ago, WTTC economic models predicted a ‘worst-case scenario’ would occur if barriers to global travel, such as quarantine measures and blanket travel restrictions, were to remain in place to tackle Covid-19.

Now it claims its fears are coming true, saying: “The confusing patchwork of bans, quarantines and uncoordinated international testing and tracing measures have deterred many people from travelling at all with the peak summer 2020 travel season all but being wiped out.”

The WTTC estimates the UK now looks likely to lose “a staggering” $186 billion from the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to UK GDP – a 73% drop compared with 2019.

Gloria Guevara (pictured), WTTC president and chief executive, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see our worst fears for the UK and global travel and tourism sector coming true.

“The jobs and livelihoods of millions of people who work throughout the sector are disappearing by the day, despite our warning this could happen.

“While we acknowledge the UK government’s efforts to support travel and tourism during this crisis, the UK alone looks set to lose three million jobs in the sector, creating an economic black hole of $186 billion in the country’s finances.

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“This is due to an international failure to implement proper coordination to combat the pandemic.

“However, we still have time to turn this around if we act together now as one and replace ineffective quarantines with comprehensive rapid testing, a worldwide accepted standard of contact tracing and widespread face mask usage.

“Employing the latest technology, combined with mass adoption of protective face coverings, will help restore confidence to the traveller.

“Governments around the world must align their policies and work hand in hand with the private sector to revive travel and tourism, so we can restore jobs and help revive the global economy.

“We strongly believe that by working as one we can beat Covid-19 and return to safe travels with world-class standards of hygiene to travellers and regenerate the jobs and livelihoods of the 300 million people who worked in the sector before Covid-19.

“That is a much more cost-effective and efficient option which will alleviate the terrible economic impact of mass unemployment.”