According to WTTC research released today (24 March) the worldwide tourism industry is set to grow faster than the global economy in 2015, but the UK may be left behind unless the government takes action.
“The UK is the fifth largest Travel & Tourism economy in the world, with the sector contributing over £187 billion to the wider economy,” said David Scowsill, president & CEO WTTC.
“WTTC urges the next UK Government to take three major steps to ensure that this sector, which contributes one in nine of all jobs in the UK, continues to grow.”
Scowsill said: “Firstly, there is a need to make visa applications easier, particularly for high-spending Chinese travellers.
“Secondly, the Air Passenger Duty tax, which remains amongst the highest in the world, must be reformed.
“Thirdly, a decision must be taken quickly on addressing the chronic under-supply of airport capacity in the South East.”
The Travel & Tourism sector will contribute £195.2 billion (almost 11 per cent GDP), and 4.3 million jobs to the UK economy by the end of 2015, according to WTTC forecasts.
The WTTC warned that more action must be taken to address the deficit of skilled staff in the industry.
According to the WTTC's economic impact assessment, failure to take action could result in the sector could employing 352,000 fewer people and contributing £17bn less to the UK economy over the next ten years, compared to current growth forecasts.
Scowsill said: “Travel and tourism has the potential to contribute 5 million jobs and 11.2 per cent of GDP to the British economy by 2025. However, this growth will not happen by itself. Rather, it needs progressive and coordinated government policies right across the sector to make it happen.”
Talent gaps remain a major issue across the tourism and hospitality sector, with a recent report indicating that a shortage of skilled chefs could limit the future of ‘foodie’ tourism in the UK.
The government faced criticism after failing to cut tourism VAT in the most recent budget, despite a campaign supported by 118 MP's and the British Hospitality Association (BHA).