U.K. likely to face 2.4 million job losses in travel and tourism: WTTC

Published on : Wednesday, November 4, 2020

According to a latest study of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the U.K. could witness a staggering loss of 2.4 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector this year if COVID-19 related international travel restrictions continue to remain in place. The latest figures arrived from WTTC’s new economic modelling, that studied the punishing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions on the travel & tourism sector.

At present, nearly 1.9 million jobs have already been impacted in the U.K. and another 2.4 million jobs is likely to be under threat if is no immediate alleviation of restrictions on international travel is made. As mentioned in a previous study by WTTC in June this year that revealed the risk of 2.9 million job losses, the new figure of 2.4 million jobs indicates a small, but positive gain, in part driven by the introduction of quarantine-free air corridors in June and a rise in domestic travel.

However, WTTC estimates that the impact of prolonged travel restrictions could wipe out £124 billion in the sector’s contribution to U.K .GDP, equating to a 62% percent drop compared with 2019. According to WTTC, the lack of international travel could threaten London’s position as one of the world’s premier hubs for business and leisure travel.  Last week, Heathrow Airport reported that it has been overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle as Europe’s busiest airport, while the latter, along with close rivals Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt has already adopted testing regimes to reduce reliance on quarantine measures.

Meanwhile, a research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests travelling overseas no longer presents a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than staying in the U.K. To provide a route to recovery for the travel & tourism sector, WTTC has established a global Steering Committee which aims to revive international travel through public and private sector cooperation. Nearly three weeks ago, G20 Tourism Ministers hosted more than 45 CEOs and Members of WTTC who presented the 100 Million Jobs Recovery Plan to save the already disrupted sector, and 100 million jobs globally.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC said in her statement that the depth of the long-term crisis facing the U.K. travel and tourism sector, if restrictions on travel continue in the months ahead, is evident from the latest WTTC figures. She recognised and appreciated the U.K. government for its efforts to support the U.K. travel and tourism sector, and for the creation of the Global Travel Taskforce, but also shared that WTTC’s estimates report that with international travel restrictions in place throughout the summer months and continuing at the moment, a total of 2.4 million travel and tourism jobs across the U.K. could be hit, with a loss of £124 billion in GDP.

She also mentioned that though the need for prioritising public health is understandable, the sector’s recovery will be delayed even further unless countries implement measures to reactivate travel responsibly, such as the implementation of a testing protocol for travellers. She shared that it is important that air corridors are restored between the world’s leading financial hubs, such as the hugely important London – New York route or London – Dubai, to help kick-start the U.K. and global economic recovery, and to avoid the devastating and far-reaching socio-economic consequences which lie ahead.

She said that it is clear that only international cooperation at the highest level, and engagement with the public and private sector, can save the beleaguered travel and tourism sector as it continues its fight for survival. She shared that everyone requires the learning to co-exist with the COVID-19 virus and make sure that measures are in place to reactivate both inbound and outbound travel responsibly and avoid the economic and social hardship.

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