Tourism can ride out the Brexit storm, says WTTC
The UK Travel & Tourism sector is expected to hold up in 2017, despite continued uncertainty due to Brexit, reduced consumer spending power, and the weaker pound, according to a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
With the fall in value of the pound after the Brexit vote, visitor exports – money spent by foreign visitors in a country – is forecast to grow by 6.2 per cent this year, as the UK becomes a cheaper destination for overseas visitors, according to the WTTC’s Economic Impact Report 2017.
In 2016, business and leisure travel’s total contribution to the UK economy rose by 2.6% to £209 billion or 10.8% of GDP. The sector supported over four million jobs, which is 11.9% of the country’s total employment, according to the research.
Outbound travel hit
The economic impact of the Brexit vote is expected to have diverging implications for domestic and international business and leisure travel spending in 2017. While the spending of international visitors is expected to increase, domestic and outbound spend in the UK is likely to suffer.
Due to higher inflation and weakened consumer spending prospects, the domestic spending outlook for 2017 has been downgraded from 3.2% to 2.6%. In addition, outbound expenditure is forecast to decrease significantly in 2017 (-4.2%), as the drop in value of the pound will continue to impact UK citizens’ spending power and their propensity to holiday abroad.
David Scowsill, the WTTC’s president and CEO, said: “There is still widespread uncertainty on the exact impact Brexit will have on the Travel & Tourism sector.
“While we generally expect business to hold up, we call on the UK government to focus on four key issues, so that this sector can continue to create jobs and to boost the country’s economy.”
The four issues are:
- MOBILITY OF LABOUR: The sector is highly dependent on foreign workers, especially from the EU. The ability for our sector to continue to employ workers from around the world is critical. The WTTC is urging the government to take into account the specific needs of our industry for labour mobility.
- VISAS: There is clear evidence that visas are a barrier to travel, and current infrastructure could not cope with the processing and issuing of visas for travellers between the UK and Europe. The WTTC is urging the government to protect visa-free travel.
- OPEN SKIES: The advent of the European Single Aviation Market had an immediate and far reaching impact on air access between the UK and Europe, opening up a plethora of new routes and driving ticket prices down. The WTTC is urging the government to remain part of the European Single Aviation Market.
- BORDER SYSTEMS: Entry and exit systems at airports and ports need take into account the increasing numbers of travellers moving. The WTTC is urging the government to invest in processes, systems and infrastructure to meet the demand.