02 Nov

UK’s international travel industry contributes £80bn a year to UK economy

ABTA and UKinbound launch new report on the value of international travel to the UK economy            

A new joint-report from ABTA and UKinbound outlines the value of international travel to the UK economy in terms of supporting jobs, economic contributions and taxes paid to HM Treasury.

The report, International Travel: Powering the UK economy, looks at the combined value of UK inbound and outbound tourism, and is based on research from leading consultants York Aviation1.

The report finds that each year UK international travel:

  • contributes £80bn to the UK economy in GVA2, equivalent to 4.0% of the UK’s total GVA;
  • supports 1.5 million jobs – 4.5% of all jobs in the UK;
  • provides £13.2bn to HM Treasury in taxes;
  • generates £84bn in travel-related spending across the UK.

As well as outlining the sector’s contributions, the report also looks at the industry’s potential for growth. It says that, with the right policy framework, inbound and outbound travel could outperform the average growth for the UK economy over the next five years, with inbound travel forecast to grow 20%, and outbound travel 15%, compared to forecast growth of 10.3% in the wider UK economy by 2027.

ABTA and UKinbound produced the joint report to demonstrate to Government and politicians that, while outbound and inbound sectors have different customers and operate in different markets, the two sectors are interdependent and interlinked. Not only do both industries share the same physical infrastructure, such as ports and airports, but the two-way travel flows they provide also support the viability of vital air, sea, and rail links that underpin the UK’s international connectivity. 

The trade bodies say the report comes at an important time as Rishi Sunak establishes his new Government and the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt prepares for his Autumn Statement on 17 November. The associations are urging the Government to recognise the valuable contribution that international travel makes to the UK economy, and the important role they will play in driving the UK’s wider economic recovery and growth.

For the first time ever, the research is also available at a constituency level, meaning ABTA and UKinbound Members, as well as the wider industry, can access data on the contribution travel makes to their local economies and communities. The research behind the report is the most comprehensive and detailed piece of analysis in this area to date and can be found in full on ABTA’s website at www.abta.com/internationaltravel

ABTA and UKinbound will be sharing the report with Government Ministers and officials, as well as MPs and representatives of the devolved administrations. Template materials will also be made available to support those from across the industry who wish to share the report with local MPs and representatives. 

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association said:

“ABTA has long argued that travel is a powerful force for good in the world, and this report shows very clearly that is as true here in the UK as in destinations around the globe. At a time when the industry is experiencing serious challenges, with rising energy costs and consumers facing a cost-of-living squeeze, it is vital that policymakers recognise the critical role that international travel plays in the UK economy. This is especially true for the outbound sector, which is too often seen in a negative light, but which this report shows clearly remains a vital employer and a crucial economic driver for communities across the UK.”

Joss Croft, Chief Executive of UKinbound said: 

“We are delighted to be launching this new data alongside ABTA, which not only highlights the value and importance of international tourism but also the growth opportunity it presents for the UK economy. The inbound and outbound tourism industries have a symbiotic relationship and looking forward, it is critical that Government implement policies and funding that support the recovery and growth of businesses across the UK’s international travel sector, which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across all four corners of the country.”  

ABTA will be exploring the current political and policy landscape at its Travel Matters conference on 6 December. Full details, including how to register, can be found here.


Notes to editors
1 Research is based on travel figures from 2019, which is the last full set of data available, with a forecast for what travel will look like in five years’ time.
2Gross Value Added (GVA) adds up the value of all goods and services produced in an economy after deducting the input costs.

About ABTA
ABTA is a trade association for UK travel agents, tour operators and the wider travel industry. We’re the largest travel trade body, with over 3,900 travel brands in Membership who have a combined pre-pandemic annual UK turnover of £40 billion. We work closely with our Members to help raise and maintain standards and build a more sustainable travel industry, and provide travellers with advice, guidance and support.

Our Members sign up to a code of conduct and commit to agreed service standards and fair trading. When you need clear travel information, and accurate and impartial advice relating to your trip, we’re here for you. We’ll help you understand your level of financial protection, and what to do next, in the unlikely event that an ABTA Member goes out of business. So, whatever happens, when you book with an ABTA Member, reliable advice comes as standard. This means that booking with our Members brings peace of mind. Together with our Members, we help you travel with confidence. www.abta.com

About UKinbound
UKinbound is a leading travel trade association and the only one which focuses solely on the interests of the UK’s inbound tourism sector. It has over 330 members including tour operators, destination management companies, accommodation providers, attractions, destination marketing organisations and service providers including restaurants, transport, retail, ticketing and professional services. UKinbound addresses and engages with Government, the media, travel trade and the general public to raise awareness of inbound tourism’s significant impact on the UK economy and drives a return for its members. www.ukinbound.org