The collapse of inbound tourism is set to cost the UK economy £22b this year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Continuing travel restrictions and the impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour have decimated inbound travel, with international visitor spending expected to plummet by 78% compared to 2019. If realised, the loss to the UK economy would equate to £60m a day or £420m a week.
WTTC modelling has also predicted that the decline in inbound tourism could cost three million jobs in the UK.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, said: "We urgently need to replace stop-start quarantine measures with rapid, comprehensive and cost-effective test and trace programmes at departure points across the country. This investment will be significantly less than the impact of blunt quarantines which have devastating and far-reaching socio-economic consequences.
"Targeted test and tracing will also rebuild consumer confidence to travel. It will enable the restoration of vital ‘air corridors' between countries and regions with similar COVID-19 case rates.
"A quick turnaround test and trace system in place for all departing passengers means the government could consider reinstating travel between the UK and major international hubs. Restoring business class travel between the world's top financial centres, such as London and New York, would act as an engine to help kick-start the economic global recovery.
"International coordination to re-establish transatlantic travel – for business and leisure trips – would provide a vital shot in the arm for the travel and tourism sector. It would benefit airlines and hotels, travel agents and tour operators and revitalise the millions of jobs in the supply chain which are dependent upon international travel across the Atlantic."
International travel spending in the UK reached almost £28.2b in 2019, accounting for 17% of total tourism spend.
London in particular is dependent on international visitor spending, which accounts for 85% of all tourism spend in the city. The capital's hotels have spoken to The Caterer about the devastating impact of the continued restrictions on international travel.
Michael Shepherd, general manager of the five-AA-star, 453-bedroom London Hilton on Park Lane, said that his hotel was seeing occupancy of less than 10%.
He added: "The fact is that in London there is no activity. We are dependent wholly on travel, and people are not travelling into London."