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UK economy suffered £7billion losses as travel and tourism hit by Omicron restrictions

Travel restrictions imposed by the UK government to combat Omicron caused an estimated £7bn loss to the UK economy last year, due to a massive drop in contributions from the country’s embattled Travel & Tourism sector, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The new figures come from research carried out by the WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, and has been at the forefront in leading the private sector in the efforts to safely restart international travel.

It also revealed that the sector’s contribution to the global economy lost an estimated £25.7bn – due to the impact of worldwide travel restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the new variant.

The £7bn loss in contributions from the sector to the UK economy comes as the country finally begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said: “Imposing unnecessary travel restrictions to ‘deal’ with Omicron was not backed by science and cost the UK economy £7bn in lost revenues.

“Travel is opening up worldwide. If the UK is going to start to repair its economy, it needs to keep borders open.”

The travel and tourism sector is a vital component of the country’s economic well-being, responsible for creating much-need jobs and a significant contributor to the treasury.

The impact of nearly two years of worldwide travel restrictions on both the sector in particular and the economy generally has continued to linger.

According to WTTC’s 2021 Economic Impact Report, the number of those employed in the UK travel and tourism sector fell from 4.27 million in 2019, to 3.96 million in 2020 – a fall of 7.2 per cent.

In 2019, before the pandemic stopped travel in its tracks, the sector generated nearly $9.2 trillion to the global economy.

The following year, the pandemic brought the sector to an almost complete standstill, causing a massive 49.1 per cent drop, representing a severe loss of nearly $4.5 trillion.

However, the rebound of the sector means losses have narrowed, with WTTC research showing the global travel and tourism sector could grow to $8.6 trillion this year, just 6.4 per cent behind pre-pandemic levels.

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