By Kristy Dorsey

Hundreds of thousands of more jobs across the UK’s travel and tourism sector could be lost this year if the government fails to “significantly” reopen international transit as soon as possible, a leading industry forum has warned.

Analysis by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has estimated that if current restrictions – with just 12 “green list” destinations, some of which have closed borders – remain in place until September, this will put 218,000 jobs at “serious risk”. If restrictions remain in place beyond the summer months, the toll could rise to half a million.

This would be on top of the more than 300,000 jobs lost last year, with the WTTC estimating that the number of people employed across the sector fell from 4.22 million in 2019 to 3.9 million by the end of 2020. Of those who remain employed, many continue to be supported by the government’s furlough programme, which is due to come to an end on September 30.

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The WTTC says the UK is putting itself at a competitive disadvantage after EU Ambassadors yesterday agreed to remove restrictions on travellers who have been fully vaccinated from next month.

Furthermore, the group warned that prolonged travel restrictions could wipe £22.3 billion off the sector’s contribution to UK economic growth.

“The UK should be making the most of its successful vaccination rollout to begin to restore international mobility safely,” WTTC senior vice president Virginia Messina said. “Staycations and domestic travel cannot fill the enormous financial hole left by the collapse of international travel and the trickle-down benefits it has across the supply chain.”