Travel and Tourism Could Drive Post-Brexit Recovery
Despite an already robust tourism economy, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) believes there’s room for future growth. Provided the U.K. and the European Union can come to an agreement and avoid a no-deal Brexit, tourism could become one of Britain’s major economic drivers.
According to the WTTC, research indicates that the travel and tourism sector of the British economy has room for expansion. Currently, it is growing slower than other places in the world at just 1 percent in comparison to the global average of approximately 3.9 percent. Spending by international visitors dropped by 9.7 percent from £31.5 billion in 2017 to £28.4 billion in 2018.
However, the U.K. is still the fifth largest tourism sector in the world.
Uncertainties over Brexit and a near 10 percent decline in spending by international visitors has led to a weakened level of growth in the U.K., according to the WTTC, but there is great potential.
In total, the travel and tourism sector contributed 4.2 million jobs in the U.K. in 2018, which illustrates the importance of the sector to the social fabric of the country.
In addition, tourism is forecast to grow by 1.4 percent in 2019.
“Post-Brexit, travel and tourism stands to be one of the major sectors to drive a recovery in the British economy,” said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC. “Its current growth rate of 1 percent is dramatically below the 6.2 percent recorded the previous year and demonstrates the huge potential of our sector to be a driver of economic growth.
“Our sector is not being helped by uncertainty over the form of Brexit,” Guevara added. “Last month we published research to show that more than 300,00 jobs could be at risk in our sector in the United Kingdom and almost 400,000 in Europe if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on March 29, 2019. So, we welcome the role of the British government in adopting a joint agenda for growth with the private sector and its determination to keep promoting the UK to overseas markets.”
A No-Deal Brexit could be devastating to the tourism industries for both the U.K. and Europe an earlier WTTC report found with significant job losses for both regions.
The WTTC noted in that report that it is imperative that visa-free travel and access to the Single Aviation Market remain possible in order to minimize the impact in the region.
For its part, Britain remains committed to investing in tourism growth.
“Tourism is the country’s shop window to the world. A £127 billion powerhouse which continues to deliver for the British economy, creating jobs and driving economic growth right across the country. Our third largest service export, tourism needs no trade deals to prosper. Britain is already competing strongly in our most valuable visitor source markets such as the US and in markets that are crucial for our future including China,” said British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway CBE, former chief executive of Virgin Atlantic Airways, in a statement.