UK tourism industry is set to double in value to £257b by 2025 according to a new report that underlines the sector's central role in creating new jobs.
The sector is currently valued at £127b by Deloitte in its report Tourism: Jobs and Growth, commissioned by VisitBritain. But it's set to grow 3.8% a year, which is faster than manufacturing, construction and retail, as well as the UK economy overall, with its predicted annual growth rate of 3%.
Tourism was one of the fastest growing industries in the UK in employment terms between 2010 and 2012, when it was responsible for one-third of the net increase in UK jobs, more than four times the rate of manufacturing.
The report forecasts that the tourism economy will be worth around £127b by the end of 2013, equivalent to 9% of the UK's GDP. It currently supports more than three million jobs, which is 9.6% of all jobs and 173,000 more than in 2010.
But by 2025, it predicts, tourism will represent just below 10% of UK GDP and support more than 3.7 million jobs (around 11% of the total UK employment).
The jobs are expected to be distributed around the UK because while urban areas such as London, Birmingham and Edinburgh have the highest number of jobs in tourism, the relative level of tourism-related jobs tends to be higher in rural and coastal areas.
An examination into the relationship between the rise in tourism spending and job numbers found that every £54,000 increase in spending in the sector creates a new tourism job in the UK.
Inbound tourism will continue to be the fastest growing sub sector, with spend by international visitors forecast to grow by more than 6% a year and the value expected to grow from more than £21b in 2013 to £57b by 2025.
"Deloitte's report suggests that by 2025 Britain could have an industry worth more than £257b (56% more than in 2013 in real terms) supporting 3.8 million jobs - across the country and at all skill levels.
"Inbound tourism is already one of Britain's top export industries and will continue to be the fastest growing sector of the industry, with spend by international visitors forecast to grow by over 6% a year.
"Inbound tourism's record performance since the Olympics bodes well for the future but to achieve the industry's full potential we need to continue to raise our game, marry policy and marketing and promote Britain even more aggressively overseas."
Minister for Tourism Helen Grant added: "We have showcased the best of Britain to the world in the last three years with some massive, memorable events, creating a huge boost for the tourism industry.
"More visitors are flying in and spending record amounts of cash and it's clear that the size of the prize going forward is big. Tourism can continue to play an increasingly important role in Britain's economic recovery, with jobs created and real career opportunities for many."