The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned that nearly £27 billion will be lost from the UK economy if the government delays restarting international travel until May 17th.
The date was set by prime minister, Boris Johnson, when he unveiled a roadmap out of lockdown.
According to the plans, two households will be able to mix outdoors from March 29th and WTTC believes this should signal the restart of safe international travel.
Resuming international travel by just seven weeks earlier, to coincide the Easter holiday break, could save struggling tourism businesses up and down the country and provide a much-needed economic boost to the economy.
WTTC, which represents the global tourism private sector, fears delaying the revival of international travel for another seven weeks, will hasten the further slide into collapse of a sector which contributes £200 billion annually to the UK economy, and is responsible for almost four million jobs.
The loss of almost £27 billion represents a damaging daily drain to the UK economy of more than £550 million, which can be counted in lost jobs and failed businesses up and down the country.
WTTC has consistently argued that international travel can safely resume with a comprehensive, coordinated international regime for testing upon departure and arrival for travellers.
Testing should be in place alongside the global vaccine rollout, enhanced health and hygiene protocols, and mostly importantly, mandatory mask wearing, which experts say can cut down transmission of the virus by more than 80 per cent, to safely revive international travel.
Additionally, the introduction of digital health passes or certificates will support the recovery.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “It would be far less economically damaging to invest in testing and biometric technology which could safely reopen the doors to travel and save the millions of jobs at risk.
“In the same way widespread community testing is being provided through rapid test kits twice a week to pupils and anyone in their household or support bubbles, so extensive testing will also permit the safe restart of international travel.
“But every day we delay will see many more cash-strapped businesses join the growing list of companies which have already disappeared due to the demise of international travel.
“Nor should we forget the human cost and the terrible suffering of so many people whose very livelihoods have been left in ruins due to the sector’s virtual collapse.
“We have to guard against vaccines as a requirement to travel which would discriminate against less advanced countries and younger travellers, or those who simply can’t or choose not to be vaccinated.”