Nearly three million jobs in the UK look set to be lost due to the collapse of travel, according to deeply pessimistic figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Somewhat implausibly, this accounts for virtually every job in the sector across the country.
WTTC economic modelling conducted less than two months ago predicted this ‘worst case scenario’ would occur if barriers to global travel, such as quarantine measures and blanket travel restrictions, were to remain in place.
While some travel bans have been removed, many others remain, with new restrictions likely to come into force to tackle the continuing threat posed by Covid-19 and possible second spikes.
However, the confusing patchwork of bans, quarantines and uncoordinated international testing and tracing measures, have deterred many people from travelling at all with the peak summer 2020 travel season “all but being wiped out”.
WTTC estimates the UK now looks close to losing a staggering $186 billion from the tourism sector’s contribution to UK GDP, equating to a 73 per cent percent drop compared with 2019.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “It’s heart-breaking to see our worst fears for the UK and global tourism sector coming true.
“The jobs and livelihoods of millions of people who work throughout the sector are disappearing by the day, despite our warning this could happen.
“While we acknowledge the UK government’s efforts to support tourism during this crisis, the UK alone looks set to lose three million jobs in the sector, creating an economic black hole of US$186 billion in the country’s finances.
“This is due to an international failure to implement proper coordination to combat the pandemic.”
In contrast to the scenario presented by WTTC, figures from the Office for National Statistic state the unemployment rate in the UK is currently 3.9 per cent.
A total of 1.3 million people are currently out of work in the UK – across all sectors.
While this figure is set to rise as the government tapers the coronavirus job retention scheme, unemployment has some way to go before it reaches levels predicted by the WTTC.
In a sign the worst may also be past, easyJet yesterday said it was increasing the number of flights it would offer this month by a quarter as demand rebounds.