Travel restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 cost the UK economy an estimated £7 billion in lost revenue.
Research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed the economic cost of “ineffective” travel restrictions introduced by the UK government in the final weeks of 2021 as Omicron spread quickly around the globe.
WTTC said the £7 billion loss to the British economy was due to a “massive drop” in contributions from the country’s travel sector.
The impact of Omicron-related travel restrictions is estimated to have cost the global economy a total of around £25.7 billion last year.
Julia Simpson, WTTC’s chief executive, said: “Imposing unnecessary travel restrictions to ‘deal’ with Omicron was not backed by science and cost the UK economy £7 billion in lost revenues.
“Travel is opening up worldwide. If the UK is going to start to repair its economy, it needs to keep borders open.”
According to WTTC’s 2021 Economic Impact Report, the number of people employed in the UK travel and tourism sector fell from 4.27 million in 2019 to 3.96 million in 2020 – a year-on-year drop of 7.2 per cent.
More positively, WTTC research suggests that global travel spending could grow to $8.6 trillion in 2022, which would be only 6.4 per cent behind pre-Covid levels.