The importance of Tourism to the UK

Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fasting growing industries. Research by the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) shows that, despite the global economic crisis in 2008/9 and the current global economic slowdown, total international travel has increased at an average of 5% per annum over the last decade.

In 2018, there were a record 1.4bn trips taken internationally, generating US$1.7tr in revenue for host destinations. This level of growth means that tourism now represents 7% of total global exports and 29% of global service sector exports, making the sector the world’s third largest export industry after chemicals and fuels, but ahead of automotive products and food.

Tourism is also one of the UK’s largest, most successful and dynamic industries, generating £146bn per annum, employing 3.1m people and delivering £26bn per annum in export earnings. Tourism, especially business and educational tourism, is also a very important component of the UK’s projection of soft power overseas, enhancing the country’s status as a place to invest and supporting international diplomacy.

The value of the Tourism industry to the UK was recently recognized by the Government through the signing of a Sector Deal which aims to deliver a 23% increase in inbound visitors by 2025.

Central to this Deal are four key commitments from the Tourism industry.

1. That the UK will lead Europe’s hotel investment over the next five years with the addition of over 130,000 hotel rooms.

2. That the tourism industry will create 300,000 apprenticeships in the sector over the next five years and deliver a multi-million pound campaign to highlight the work opportunities in the sector.

3. That a data-mining centre will be developed to understand the customer of the future and enhance marketing activities across the sector.

4. That the UK tourism industry will improve accessibility and factoring this into product development plans across the industry so as to be the accessible destination of choice for visitors.

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