The UK government’s “ineffective travel restrictions” to combat the Omicron variant caused a £7 billion loss to the UK economy last year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The global tourism body stated that the “attack” on the industry from the end of last year until January 2022 “proved ineffective at halting Omicron and devastating for the sector”.

The new figures also revealed that the global travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the global economy lost an estimated £25.7 billion, due to the impact of worldwide travel restrictions to limit the spread of the new variant.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said:

“Imposing unnecessary travel restrictions to ‘deal’ with Omicron was not backed by science and cost the UK economy £7bn 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.”

In 2019 the sector generated nearly $9.2 trillion for the global economy, but there was a drop of 49.1 per cent representing a loss of nearly $4.5 trillion the following year due to the pandemic.

Nonetheless, recent research by WTTC shows that the sector could grow to US$8.6 trillion this year, just 6.4 per cent behind pre-pandemic levels.

WTTC: Travel and tourism sector could reach $8.6 trillion this year