Up to 500,000 jobs are at risk in the UK's travel sector unless the government reopens international travel as soon as possible, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has
The WTTC predicts, if restrictions remain this year, around $31.58 billion, the sector's contribution to UK economic growth, would be at risk of being lost. If restrictions remain beyond the summer months, then the impact on jobs and the UK's gross domestic product (GDP) could be far worse.
A recent WTTC report noted that 307,000 jobs were lost in the sector in 2020 and if restrictions remain for most of the summer, another 218,000 would be at risk.
"While we understand protecting public health is the number one priority, if the government continues its overly cautious approach, hundreds of thousands more jobs could be lost and travel businesses up and down the country face going bust," said Virginia Messina, WTTC senior vice president.
Messina added: "The UK should be making the most of its successful vaccination roll-out to begin to restore international mobility safely."
The stark warning came as Britons begin limited travel abroad to the government's 12 green list destinations, some of which have closed borders to travelers. The so-called traffic light system, follows an almost five-month complete ban on non-essential international travel.
UK ministers have said people should not go on holiday to countries that are not on the green list, while UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week the list would not be extended any time soon due to concerns about new variants of the coronavirus.
Heathrow, the UK's largest airport, reported that the limited reopening meant that it had 11,000 people flying out on Monday, up from 7,000 a day last week but well below the 120,000 passengers typical at this time of year pre-pandemic.
The statement comes as European Union ambassadors meet on Wednesday to discuss removing restrictions in June for those fully vaccinated. The latest reports from the meeting suggest they will open their borders to vaccinated Britons.