The UK maintains 5th position in terms of travel and tourism competitiveness according to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 (World Economic Forum). That said, the report highlights how the UK is lagging behind in price competitiveness and since the last survey in 2015 there has been a significant decline in security (78, down 15 positions) and in international openness (20, down 9 positions). Recent events indicate that the UK is starting to become more inward-looking. Brexit is a prime example of this alongside the rise of protectionist rhetoric elsewhere. The possible changes in the movement of people post Brexit could have a significant impact on the UKs visa requirement ranking which currently sits at 108 and is a high barrier to entry for tourism.

The report states how every 30 tourists create one job. The sector contributes US $7.6 trillion to the global economy and creates 292 million jobs (1 in every 10 jobs on the planet). The industry continues to make real difference to the lives of millions of people, driving growth, reducing poverty, fostering development and tolerance and reducing prejudice. Peter de Wilde from the European Travel Commission, correctly states, “Tourism is a tool for tolerance, and we need more of that”.

With another general election looming, the government could prioritise the need for travel and tourism, paying particular attention to the challenges posed by declining security and international openness. The travel & tourism industry continues to build bridges, not walls between people and its essential that the industry finds smart, strategic ways to continue to facilitate and grow sustainable international travel.