Few industries can boast of their power to inspire growth and create jobs as can tourism.

All three sectors of the travel and tourism industry contribute positively to the UK economy. The outbound, inbound and domestic sectors are interconnected and interdependent, with shared infrastructure, shared products and a shared consumer base. The continued success of the industry and its future ability to foster growth and create jobs is reliant on government policy that supports this.

Tourism is the UK’s fifth largest industry, employing millions in jobs across the whole of the country. Each sector plays its part.

Annually, over 126 million overnight domestic trips take place. Expenditure on overnight trips neared £23 billion in 2011; inclusive of day visits, spend on domestic tourism exceeded £76 billion, directly supporting an estimated 1.52 million jobs in the UK economy.

UK residents spend in excess of £31 billion annually within the UK in preparation for a holiday abroad.  Including industries supplying the sector, outbound travel generates £54 billion within the UK economy, contributing over £6 billion to HM Treasury in taxes, and supporting 1.26 million jobs in the wider economy.

Over 30 million visitors to the UK spend £18 billion here annually, directly responsible for 360,000 jobs. Globally, the UK is the sixth largest international tourism destination by visitor numbers and seventh largest by visitor expenditure. The Prime Minister stated in his 2010 speech that for every half a per cent increase in Britain’s share of the world tourism market we can add £2.7bn to our economy, and more than 50,000 jobs.

In February 2013, ABTA launched ‘Valuing the UK’s Tourism Mix’, a series of policy proposals designed to help Government encourage the industry to grow and create more jobs:

  • Strategic infrastructure support – ensuring that communities have excellent transport connections to sea and air ports enabling travel to, from and around the UK
  • Creating a more competitive product – the Government must help where it can to ensure that UK travel and tourism is as cost competitive as possible. They should consider commissioning a review the impact of Air Passenger Duty, reducing VAT on tourism services and simplifying the visa process for entry to the UK
  • Good regulation for confident customers and businesses – policymakers must ensure that all regulation is proportionate and targeted. The Government should bring airline holiday sales within the ATOL scheme, remove the requirement for travel insurance sales to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority and cap passport fee increases.

Promotion of travel and tourism as a key employer – government should encourage cooperation between industry and the educational sector to create the level and type of skills needed for the future development of a healthy and thriving tourism industry with support for apprenticeships and training in management and entrepreneurial development.  The Government should also commit to a well-resourced and long term marketing strategy to promote the UK to a global audience.

Download the full report – Valuing the UK’s Tourism Mix.

Read Mark’s opinion piece: The tourism sector challenges for government.

Read the summary and full report of Driving Growth – the economic value of outbound travel.