ABTA -The Travel Association today revealed the considerable economic contribution made to the Northern Ireland (NI) economy by outbound travel. Speaking at the Big Travel Trade Event, ABTA highlighted the findings of a report it commissioned from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) that shows outbound travel directly contributes over £420M to the NI economy, representing 1.5% of NI GDP. With the inclusion of contributions made by industries supplying the sector, the total economic impact rises to over £776M, or 1.9% of NI GDP.
In addition to this economic contribution, the outbound sector makes a significant contribution to jobs in NI, accounting for nearly 18,000 people in full time employment, which is equivalent to 2.7% of the full time NI workforce. When taking into account jobs that are reliant on supplying the industry, the sector accounts for over 27,000 full time jobs or approximately 4% of the NI workforce. The figures highlight that the industry sustains a larger number of jobs than its economic contribution alone would suggest (1.5% GDP Vs 2.7% jobs). Outbound travel also tends to be very customer-focused, with jobs relatively difficult to replace with technological or mechanical alternatives and supporting jobs that require a strong range of skills.
The research was commissioned as part of a report by ABTA to obtain an accurate picture of the outbound sector’s contribution to the UK economy, which is often inaccurately portrayed as only making a negative dent on the UK’s trade deficit versus domestic or inbound tourism. Overall the study shows that the outbound sector contributes over £22.1bn to the UK economy.
Findings from the study also show that UK holidaymakers spend an average of £532 per head, equivalent to £31.2bn annually, in the UK on products and services before they start their holiday overseas, which is nearly the same as their spend abroad (£31.6bn). This ranges from spend at the local travel agent to clothes and accessories, cameras, sun tan lotion and toiletries. Nearly £1.8bn is spent in UK duty free before holidaymakers even step onto a plane.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “Many people falsely assume that going abroad means money taken out of the NI economy. This report proves conclusively that that is simply not the case. It shows that the outbound sector is a vibrant and healthy contributor to the NI economy and a significant source of jobs and employment. With this in mind the Government must recognise and support outbound travel in its current and future policies and planning strategies to deliver growth to the wider economy.”