ABTA unveiled new research today at its annual Travel Matters policy event revealing the considerable economic contribution made to the UK economy by outbound travel. The report by the Centre for Economics Research (Cebr), highlights that outbound travel directly contributes over £22bn to the economy, representing 1.6% of UK GDP. With the inclusion of contributions made by industries supplying the sector, the total economic impact rises to over £54bn, or 3.8% of UK GDP.
The research was commissioned 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. In fact, findings from the study show that 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.
In addition to its economic contribution, the outbound sector makes a significant contribution to UK jobs, accounting for 620,000 people in full time employment, which is more than the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors combined and accounts for 2.6% of the UK workforce. When jobs that are reliant on supplying the industry are taken into account, this figure rises to 5.2% of total UK employment, highlighting that the industry sustains a larger number of jobs than its economic contribution alone would suggest. 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 report also reveals that the total tax take from the outbound sector is £6bn per year, with £1.2bn raised from indirect taxes such as Air Passenger Duty (APD). This is a significant contribution to the Treasury and shows that the outbound sector is playing its part in helping the Government in its bid to reduce the deficit and support growth.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “For too long it has been assumed that by going abroad on holiday, money is being taken out of the UK economy. This report proves conclusively that the foreign holiday market makes a huge contribution to the UK economy and is an essential component of a healthy and dynamic UK economy. Outbound travel employs hundreds of thousands of people and directly contributes over £22bn to the economy, supporting a range of sectors. 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.”