That’s according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Economic Impact Report 2017.
With the fall in value of the pound after the Brexit vote last year, visitor exports – which is money spent by foreign visitors in a country – is forecast to grow by 6.2% this year, as we see the impact of the UK having become a cheaper destination for overseas visitors.
In 2016, business and leisure travel’s total contribution to the UK economy rose by 2.6% to £209 billion or 10.8% of GDP.
The sector supported more than four million jobs, which is 11.9% of the country’s total employment, according to the research.
However the economic impact of the Brexit vote is expected to have “diverging implications” for domestic and international business and leisure travel spending in 2017.
While the spending of international visitors is expected to increase, domestic and outbound spend in the UK will suffer.
Due to higher inflation and weakened consumer spending prospects, the domestic spending outlook for 2017 has been downgraded from 3.2% to 2.6%.
Outbound expenditure is forecast to decrease significantly in 2017 (-4.2%), as the drop in value of the pound will continue to impact UK citizens’ spending power and their propensity to holiday abroad.
David Scowsill, president and chief executive, WTTC, said: “There is still widespread uncertainty on the exact impact Brexit will have on the travel and tourism sector.
“While we generally expect business to hold up, we call on the UK government to focus on four key issues, so that this sector can continue to create jobs and to boost the country’s economy.”
WTTC continued that the sector is highly dependent on foreign workers, especially from the EU.
“The ability for our sector to continue to employ workers from around the world is critical. We urge the government to take into account the specific needs of our industry for labour mobility,” it said in a statement.
The body went on to urge the government to protect visa free travel and remain part of the European single aviation market.
It also urged the government to invest in processes, systems and infrastructure to meet the demand of border systems.
The UK is due to trigger article 50 on March 29.