Solo traveller Pexels Archie Binamira

ABTA report: Outbound travel boosts the UK economy

ABTA has released Driving Growth – The economic value of outbound travel, a report on the contribution of the outbound travel sector to the UK economy.

According to the report − which aims to lay to rest the idea that outbound travel is not a fiscal multiplier for the country − the contribution to the UK economy from outbound travel has increased by a third since 2014. The overall contribution to the UK economy from outbound travel now stands at £37.1 billion and 1.8% of GDP, up 36% from £27.1 billion in 2014. This is the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the travel industry, which takes account of direct spend on travel services and holidays, as well as a range of associated products and services such as duty free, cameras and suntan lotion.

The analysis finds that travellers now spend more in the UK before they travel than they do while abroad. UK travellers spent £45.7 billion in 2017, compared to £44.8 billion overseas, an increase of almost £10 billion since 2014. This is the third report from ABTA of this nature and it demonstrates the significant contribution the sector makes to the UK, and highlights its strength, resilience and ability to grow amid global challenges and uncertainty.

The travel industry is a big employer within the UK, directly employing 221,000 jobs and supporting a further 526,000 jobs in the wider economy, including retail staff and manufacturers. Both have increased since 2014 – from 214,000 and 435,000 respectively. This represents a higher employment figure than the entire wholesale and retail distribution of motor vehicles and motorcycles, and adds up to more jobs than the UK’s iron and steel or electrical equipment manufacturing industries. 

“Too often the contribution of the UK outbound travel industry is overlooked in favour of a myth that overseas travel creates a ‘tourism deficit’ with money going overseas which could be spent in the UK,” said Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive. “The evidence is clear that this is not the case − the benefits of the outbound sector are being felt by the wider economy in terms of jobs, support for other businesses and tax contributions to the Treasury. In order to continue to grow and thrive, the government needs to make sure the right tax and policy framework is in place.”

The report is based on analysis by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), based on 2017 figures, which is the most recent data available.


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