Monthly air passenger arrivals to the UK fell from 6,804,900 in February 2020 to 112,300 in April 2020, a fall of 98.3%.
Greater London saw the largest fall in room occupancy of any English region from 2019 to 2020, with just 20% of rooms occupied in July 2020 compared with 90% in the same month in 2019.
Accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020.
The proportion of businesses in travel and tourism industries trading peaked at 85% in October 2020, before declining in response to increasing restrictions in November.
In the three months to June 2020, employment in accommodation for visitors fell by 21.5% compared with the same three months of 2019.
In travel and tourism industries overall, the number of people aged 16 to 24 years saw the largest fall in employment of any age group between Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 and Quarter 3 2020.
The travel and tourism industries contributed 6.7% of all gross value added in the UK in 2018. Since then, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted the sector heavily in 2020 and into 2021, with government restrictions both in the UK and worldwide preventing tourism for large periods of time. Within the UK, unnecessary travel was first discouraged on 16 March, before a nationwide lockdown was announced on 23 March. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all non-essential overseas travel on 17 March. As restrictions were gradually relaxed with the opening of non-essential retail on 15 June, followed by the implementation of quarantine-free travel corridors in July, operation in these industries became easier, although varying devolved and regional restrictions have led to differing impacts on businesses. Travel was again impacted by the second and third English lockdowns in November 2020 and January 2021 and travel corridors were suspended on 18 January 2021.
Throughout this analysis the definition of travel and tourism industries is consistent with the compilation of the Tourism Satellite Account. Some industries have been combined or omitted for statistical disclosure reasons. A list of the industries and categories used is available in Section 7.Back to table of contents
Data from the Monthly Business Survey show that there have been differing impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) between industries. Turnover in travel and tourism businesses fell to its lowest level in 2020 in May, at just 26.0% of February levels, compared with 73.6% in all other industries. Accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May.
In every sub-industry except exhibitions and conferences, there was a response to relaxing restrictions in the summer, with the turnover in food and beverage serving industries peaking at 90.0% of February levels in August. In this industry, we have previously reported on the impact of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme on consumer behaviour.
Exhibitions and conferences have shown a different pattern of seasonality in previous years’ data, tending to see highest turnover in the autumn and spring. This sub-industry did see some recovery in the autumn, to 35.7% of February levels in November, up from 18.1% in August, the only sub-industry not to see a decline in turnover in response to the national lockdown in November.
Data from the Business Impacts of Coronavirus Survey measures the impact of COVID-19 and the end of the EU transition period on UK businesses and the economy. The first wave with comparable estimates took place in June 2020.
The proportion of businesses currently trading increased in most travel and tourism industries in July and August, with the proportion of accommodation and travel agency businesses increasing from 43% trading in early July 2020 to 98% in late August, before declining to 51% in November in response to national lockdown restrictions. By mid-January 2021, this proportion had declined further, with only 37% of accommodation business trading, likely the result of both seasonality and new government restrictions.
Back to table of contents
The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on employment in the travel and tourism industry can be investigated using data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). LFS responses are weighted to official population estimates and projections that do not currently reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This analysis uses changes in levels of employment and should be interpreted with caution. For more information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see the article published on 6 May 2020, which details some of the challenges that we have faced in producing estimates at this time. In addition, industry breakdowns using the LFS should also be interpreted with caution, as they are based on respondents’ views about the business for which they work. This may not be the same as the industry in which businesses are classified in estimates of the national accounts.
The number of people reporting their main job as being in the travel and tourism industry during Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2020 was 10.8% lower than in the same quarter of 2019. Over the same period, employment in other industries increased by 0.1%. (Figure 6).
Of the industries within travel and tourism, accommodation for visitors saw the largest percentage fall in employment (negative 21.5%). Food and beverage serving activities saw smaller percentage falls, but this industry made up 40% of employment in travel and tourism in the three months to March 2020.
Breaking down changes in employment between 2019 and 2020, travel and tourism industries subtracted from overall employment growth in the first three quarters of 2020 (Figure 7).
Passenger transport services, including passenger vehicle rental, made the largest negative contribution to travel and tourism employment in the first two quarters of 2020 compared with the same quarters of 2019. However, it should be noted that this is predominantly because of declines in employment in road and rail passenger transport in the second half of 2019. In Quarter 3 2020, food and beverage services contributed negative 0.5 percentage points of the 0.7% fall in total employment, compared with the same quarter of 2019.
Figure 8 breaks down the fall in total employment between Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 and Quarter 3 2020, based on age, working pattern and industry (travel and tourism or other). In travel and tourism industries, the number of people aged 25 to 34 years working full-time saw the largest fall, followed by people aged 16 to 24 years working part-time. Over the same period, the number of people employed full-time in other industries increased in all but the youngest age group, while all age groups saw decreases in part-time employment in other industries.
As well as seeing larger declines in employment relative to other industries, travel and tourism industries have also tended to have higher rates of people on full or partial furlough leave. Even as restrictions eased over the summer of 2020, the percentage of the workforce on furlough leave in most travel and tourism industries was higher than in other industries, before increasing again in November in response to further lockdown measures.
Back to table of contents
|Tourism industries||SIC 2007||Description|
|Accommodation for visitors||55100||Short term accommodation activities|
|55201||Holiday centres and villages|
|55209||Other holiday and other short stay accommodation (not including holiday centres and villages or youth hostels) n.e.c.|
|55300||Camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks|
|Exhibitions and conferences etc||68202||Letting and operating of conference and exhibition centres|
|82301||Activities of exhibition and fair organisers|
|82302||Activities of conference organisers|
|Food and beverage serving activities||56101||Licensed restaurants|
|56102||Unlicensed restaurants and cafes|
|56103||Take away food shops and mobile food stands|
|56210||Event catering activities|
|56290||Other food service activities|
|56300||Beverage serving activities|
|Passenger transport||49100||Passenger rail transport, interurban|
|49311||Urban, suburban or metropolitan area passenger railway transportation by underground, metro and similar systems|
|49319||Urban, suburban or metropolitan area passenger land transport other than railway transportation by underground, metro and similar systems|
|49390||Other passenger land transport|
|50100||Sea and coastal passenger water transport|
|50300||Inland passenger water transport|
|51101||Scheduled passenger air transport|
|51102||Non-scheduled passenger air transport|
|Transport equipment rental||77110||Renting and leasing of cars and light motor vehicles|
|77341||Renting and leasing of passenger water transport equipment|
|77351||Renting and leasing of passenger air transport equipment|
|Travel agencies and other reservation service activities||79110||Travel agency activities|
|79120||Tour operator activities|
|79901||Activities of tourist guides|
|79909||Other reservation service and related activities (not including activities of tourist guides)|
|Cultural activities||90010||Performing arts|
|90020||Support activities to performing arts|
|90040||Operation of arts facilities|
|91030||Operation of historical sites and buildings|
|91040||Botanical and zoological gardens and activities|
|Sports and Recreational activities||77210||Renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods|
|92000||Gambling and betting activities|
|93110||Operation of sports facilities|
|93199||Other sports activities|
|93210||Activities of amusement parks and theme parks|
|93290||Other amusement and recreation activities n.e.c.|
Download this table Table 1: List of industries used in this analysis.xls .csv
Contact details for this Article
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455443