In a significant economic comeback, the United Kingdom’s Travel and Tourism sector is poised to surpass its 2019 pre-pandemic peak this year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR).
According to hotelnewsresource.com, the WTTC’s research predicts that the UK Travel & Tourism sector will contribute a staggering £252.4 billion to the country’s economy this year, surpassing the 2019 high of £248.5 billion. This resurgence is not only a remarkable feat but also a sign of the sector’s resilience in the face of adversity.
Furthermore, the WTTC forecasts that the sector will generate nearly 380,000 jobs in 2023, almost fully recovering the employment losses inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 4 million people employed in the Travel & Tourism sector, roughly one in nine workers in the UK.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, international visitor spending in the UK is expected to reach £26.18 billion, just 6% shy of the 2019 peak of £38.6 billion.
A Look Back at 2022: A Year of Remarkable Growth
The sector exhibited remarkable growth in 2022, with its GDP contribution increasing by 65% to surpass £237 billion, accounting for 9.5% of the UK’s economy, inching closer to the 2019 high of 9.9%.
Last year, the sector added 1.1 million more jobs compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 3.6 million jobs nationwide, equating to one in ten jobs across the UK. Impressively, the sector has now managed to recover 1.5 million of the 1.7 million jobs lost during the pandemic.
Another remarkable aspect of 2022 was the return of international travelers to the UK, with spending from overseas visitors surging over 300% from 2021 to nearly £30 billion.
Moreover, domestic visitor spending made a full recovery in 2022, matching the pre-pandemic high of £165 billion, underscoring the enduring appeal of staycations in the UK.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, emphasized the sector’s significance, stating, “Travel & Tourism creates one in every ten jobs in the UK. It contributes over £250 billion a year to the UK economy.” While optimistic about the sector’s growth, she also called on the UK government to take measures to ensure its continued success, especially in light of the removal of VAT-free shopping for international tourists, which could potentially divert high-value tourists to other destinations.
The Next Decade: A Bright Future Ahead
Looking ahead, the WTTC predicts that the Travel and Tourism sector will continue to grow, with its GDP contribution expected to reach almost £315 billion by 2033, constituting nearly 11% of the UK economy. Employment in the sector is also expected to soar, with over 5 million people working in Travel and Tourism across the country, equivalent to one in seven Britons.
In 2022, the European Travel & Tourism sector made a significant contribution of €1.9 trillion to the regional economy, coming within 7% of the 2019 peak. The WTTC anticipates that the sector’s GDP contribution in Europe will surpass €2 trillion in 2023, approaching the pre-pandemic high.
While the sector employed nearly 35 million people across Europe in 2022, an increase of 2.9 million from the previous year, it still lags 3.2 million behind pre-pandemic levels. The WTTC projects that the sector will fully recover the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of 2024, reaffirming its resilience and importance in the region’s economic landscape.