Research conducted by World Travel & Tourism Council has revealed tourism is the fastest growing sector in the UK.
According to the organisation, the market accounts for 11.9 per cent of all jobs, ahead of financial services (8.9 per cent) and banking (3.4 per cent), and generates £232 billion annually.
The launch of the research falls on the fiftieth anniversary of the Development in Tourism Act, which was introduced in July 1969, and saw the establishment of the British Tourist Authority and tourist boards for England, Scotland and Wales.
The aim was to give responsibility to the BTA for promoting the development of tourism to and within Great Britain, and to oversee the improvement of tourist amenities and facilities in order to attract both domestic and foreign visitors.
Today, the United Kingdom is the world’s seventh most popular tourist destination and the fourth in Europe, with almost 40 million visitors each year.
The benchmarking study from WTTC, compares the industry’s economic impact to eight other key sectors (agriculture, mining, health, automotive manufacturing, retail, financial services, banking and construction), across 26 countries and ten world regions.
The report, sponsored by American Express, reveals that in the UK, of the sectors studied, tourism is the fifth largest sector in terms of GDP contribution (11 per cent), ahead of banking (6.1 per cent) and automotive manufacturing (3.2 per cent).
Tourism was the second fastest growing sector (3.9 per cent per annum) during 2010-18, behind automotive manufacturing (5.6 per cent per annum), where stronger growth came from a much lower base.
This contrasts with the Banking sector, which showed the poorest performance, contracting by 1.1 per cent per annum.
Gloria Guevara, president, WTTC said: “As we know and is now reaffirmed by this benchmarking research, the tourism sector underpins much of UK spending and supports jobs.
“WTTC commends the UK government for recognising the clear importance of the industry as a driver of economic growth and for their strategy in spreading the benefits of the industry across the country.”