WTTC: UK tourism stressed by poor infrastructure

Travel & Tourism leaders convened on Tuesday to address the urgent need for better infrastructure in the United Kingdom, based on the forecasted growth from the Travel & Tourism industry
body. The United Kingdom’s Travel & Tourism economy is expected to generate over £190 billion in 2007, growing faster than the current rate of inflation at 3.1 per cent per annum between 2008 and 2017, according to the latest research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Despite this positive growth industry leaders convened in Canary Wharf in London’s financial district to raise their concerns about continued inaction to address deepening infrastructure constraints, which is jeopardizing economic prospects and seriously affecting the experience of millions of travellers across the world. 

The United Kingdom, which stands as the 5th largest Travel & Tourism economy, contributing 9.1 per cent of GDP and 8.5 per cent of employment in 2007, has received increasing criticism in recent months for its mismanagement of increasing pressures on its infrastructure system, most notably at the main airport hubs.

Presenting these statistics, WTTC President Jean-Claude Baumgarten warned that the UK government must react now to maintain this strong economic position. The impact would heavily affect the UK’s Travel & Tourism industry and wider economy. He added “The current focus is on climate change and this industry cannot be demonised as the cause. It is quite simple - efficient infrastructure and less congestion will have a positive impact on the environment.”

At the meeting, Manchester Airports Group CEO Geoff Muirhead CBE highlighted the importance of the aviation industry to the UK economy “The four Manchester Airport Group airports (Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside) generate more than £3 billion for UK plc, and support thousands of Travel & Tourism jobs. Inbound tourism is clearly good news for the British economy, while overseas travel allows UK citizens the chance for a well earned break in a sunnier climate. We need to find ways of supporting both these aspects of tourism much more effectively, given their importance to the UK economy as a whole.”

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Hospitality and leisure development will also continue to grow and will create greater jobs opportunities explained Whitbread Chief Executive Alan Parker “The hospitality industry depends heavily on the infrastructure of air, road and rail links, which transport clients to the hotels. If infrastructure does not keep pace with growth, then business and tourism could drift away from the UK to other markets on the continent.” 

WTTC Chairman Geoffrey Kent concluded “The government must put in place a long term infrastructure plan with at least a 15 year horizon. The 2012 Olympic Games will provide the platform, focus and budget for this long-term plan, which will drive the forecasted tourism demand.”
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