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UK economy will lose £18 billion unless international travel restrictions are lifted

The UK economy will lose £18 billion if the current restrictions on international travel extend into the Summer, finds research by the all party group on the future of aviation.

The study estimated that the fall in international visitors would cost at least £7.5 billion in lost income to shops, restaurants, hotels and tourist destinations.

Outbound travel, which was responsible for contributing £37.1bn to the UK economy in 2019 is expected to see a hit of at least £10.5billion, with travel restrictions expected to keep passenger numbers at historically low levels.

Henry Smith, the Tory MP who chairs the group, said Boris Johnson needed to set a clear timetable for opening up travel in his roadmap speech on February 22 allied to a comprehensive financial support package for the industry.

“Our aviation, travel and tourism industries have faced the hardest twelve months in their history and have been devastated by a collapse in passenger numbers and delays to the promised recovery package.

“These figures lay bare the brutal reality that without further financial support and a clear pathway out of the restrictions, these industries who are already running on empty will be left in a battle for survival.

“The pandemic has been disastrous for our aviation, travel and tourism sectors and the consequences of a lost summer season will be beyond devastating not only to the businesses involved, but their employees, their communities and the UK economy as a whole.

“That is why it is so vital that the Government meet this challenge through a clear roadmap out of the restrictions and bring forward a serious and significant package of support that protects these essential industries for the challenging months ahead.”

Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, said “Since the removal of travel corridors and the introduction of quarantine hotels, our members have received hundreds of cancellations for 2021, and as long as quarantine is in place cancellations will continue, and people will be put off booking a trip to the UK this year.

“This is why we need the Prime Minister to publish a roadmap to reopening the tourism sector on the 22 February. When people can travel again we expect strong demand, but our industry can’t open back up overnight.

“The Chancellor needs to recognise that we have a long road to recovery and that tourism businesses need support today to ensure they’re able to survive long enough to support the UK’s economic recovery. This is why we urgently need furlough to be retained as long as restrictions are in place, sector specific grants and the extension of Business Rate Relief.”

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