Several industry associations—including the Global Business Travel Association, Meeting Planners International, and the U.S. Travel Association—were among the nearly 50 travel and tourism organizations that addressed a letter to both U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in an effort to restart the once-robust travel between the countries. The two leaders will be meeting during the G7 Summit in the UK this June.
Noting the increase in vaccinations and the safety measures that both governments and the travel industry writ large have implemented, the associations implored the leaders to jointly reopen those critical pathways that contribute to the respective country’s GDP.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the impact of COVID stalling travel has been sobering—representing a £148B loss (or a staggering 62.3 percent drop from 2019) in the UK in 2020, and a $766B loss (41 percent drop from 2019) for the U.S.
“Separately, travel and tourism are essential economic engines in both the U.S. and UK and in 2019, contributed 8.6 percent and 10.1 percent respectively to each country’s GDP, UK visitors were the second largest source of inbound international tourism revenue for the U.S. economy while U.S. visitors were the largest source of such revenue for the UK economy. The tourism and hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in both economies and safely restoring the U.S-UK air travel market will have a significant impact. If travel restrictions are lifted by this June, we expect the market will start to recover and approach 70 percent of 2019 levels by the end of the year buoyed primarily by summer season traffic. According to a study by Compass Lexecon, a reopened corridor could respectively generate 3.7 billion USD and 1.9 billion GBP in incremental activity this summer for both economies and help to restore lost jobs in the hospitality sector. By contrast, ongoing restrictions through the end of 2021 will result in billions in lost economic activity,” read the letter.
In the U.S., Biden has signaled that the country will be largely open by July, with an ambitious goal of achieving a 70 percent vaccination rate of the U.S. population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 44 percent of the country has received at least one dose, although the officials worry due to declining daily numbers. In the UK, 50 million doses have been administered (according to the National Health Service).
The full letter can be read here.