WTTC: 130,000 vacant positions poses threat to UK’s travel & tourism sector

 Tuesday, August 2, 2022 

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Nearly 130,000 job vacancies go unfulfilled across the UK which sets an alarm to the tourism sector which is at risk. WTTC says this in their report.

According to this international tourism body, one in every 14 jobs is likely to remain vacant. This counts that the UK will see a shortfall of about 128,000 jobs. Restaurants and hotels are struggling to find staff.

But, the UK government, unlike countries like Portugal, refuses to allow temporary workers from outside the country.

However, the worst affected industries are hospitality, aviation and entertainment. These industries are facing unfulfilled vacancies of 18% (one in six), 12% (one in eight) and 11% (one in nine) respectively.

When 1.8 million people were employed in the UK’s travel sector in 2019 before the COVID-19, over 200,000 lost their jobs in 2020.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO said that the UK tourism recovery is at risk. The government is not using a flexible visa system to attract more workers in the UK.

The tourism sector contributed nearly 235 million lbs to the country’s economy by employing nearly two million people.

The sector was one of the worst affected due to the pandemic losing almost 50% of its value. It now seeks government intervention.


In retail, UK stores are still stumbling from the decision by the UK Government to axe VAT Refunds for visitors. It means tourists can save 20% on goods by choosing Paris instead of London. The Chancellor of the Exchequer needs to look at this urgently.

Despite the UK government’s lay off scheme, which provided much needed relief to the sector, WTTC says more support is needed to fill these vacancies. This will in turn boost the economy  and contribute to the country’s GDP.

During the second half of 2022, data indicates that labour supply will continue to fall short of demand – with the gap projected to further increase in the third quarter of 2022 as demand approaches pre-pandemic levels.

Last week WTTC revealed that up to 1.2 million jobs across the EU will remain unfulfilled, with hospitality, air transport, and travel agencies being the most affected.

Some of the key measures identified in the report for both governments and the private sector to address the talent gap are:

1.    Facilitate labour mobility across international borders, with more favourable visa policies

2.    Enable flexible and remote working where feasible – allowing part time or contractor-based opportunities, where possible

3.    Ensure decent work and competitive employee benefits and average pay increases across the sector

4.    Attract talent by improving the perception of jobs and promoting viable career paths with growth opportunities

5.    Develop and support a skilled workforce through comprehensive educational programs, as well as upskilling and reskilling current talent

6.    Adopt innovative technological and digital solutions to alleviate pressure on staff, improve daily operations and an enhanced customer experience

The global tourism body believes by implementing these measures, Travel & Tourism businesses will be able to attract more workers.

This in turn would enable the sector to meet the ever-growing consumer demand and further speed up its recovery, which is the backbone to generating economic well-being across the country.

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