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UK economy loses £22bn as virus ravages tourism: Study


Agence France-Presse

London  /  Thu, August 27, 2020  /  11:17 am
UK economy loses £22bn as virus ravages tourism: Study

A person wearing a protective face mask walks through Trafalgar Square, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, August 21, 2020. (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

Britain's economy will lose about £22 billion ($29 billion, 24 billion euros) this year on the coronavirus-induced collapse of global travel, which could imperil three million jobs, an industry body forecast Wednesday.

International visitor spending could plunge by 78 percent from 2019, equating to a loss of £60 million per day or £420 million a week, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) predicted in a key report.

"Travelers and tourists are staying away from the UK in droves because of continuing uncertainty around travel restrictions designed to curb the spread of COVID-19," the WTTC stated.

It continued: "The severe impact on UK travel and tourism is laid bare by WTTC as the economic fallout from coronavirus continues to burn its way through the sector. 

"Nearly three million jobs in the UK supported by travel and tourism are at risk of being lost in a 'worst case' scenario mapped out by WTTC economic modelling."

The nation's economy shrank by one fifth in the second quarter, more than any European neighbor, as the lockdown plunged the country into its deepest recession on record.

Tourists remain reluctant to visit because Britain is the European country worst hit by the coronavirus. 

'Years to recover' 

Travel has also been discouraged after the UK government recently re-imposed quarantine on those returning from nations including Austria, Croatia, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

The WTTC added Wednesday that London has been hardest hit by the travel collapse because around 85 percent of tourist spending in the capital is from foreign visitors.

Read also: Spain visitor numbers climb but still only a fraction of 2019 levels

"The economic pain and suffering caused to millions of households across the UK, who are dependent upon Travel & Tourism for their livelihoods, is evident from the latest figures," added WTTC President Gloria Guevara in the report.

"The lack of international travel caused by the pandemic could wipe out more than £22 billion from the UK economy alone... from which it could take years to recover. 

"It could also threaten London's position as one of the world's premier hubs for business and leisure travel which could see other destinations take over.

"We urgently need to replace stop-start quarantine measures with rapid, comprehensive and cost-effective test and trace programs at departure points across the country."

British tourism's lobbying body VisitBritain had forecast Tuesday that the number of foreign tourists will plummet by 73 percent in 2020 to 11 million people on the back of the pandemic, which has grounded aircraft worldwide.

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