Senior economist stresses importance of tourism to UK growth

A senior economist has spoken of the importance of tourism to the UK’s economic recovery.

Andrew Sentence, a senior economic advisor at London-based PriceWaterhouseCoopers and a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said that tourism was on a par with financial services with regards to driving growth.

Speaking at the British Hospitality and Tourism summit in London on Tuesday, Sentence itemised Britain’s top export-oriented services, estimating tourism, culture and heritage as being responsible for 9 percent of GDP, which puts it on a par with financial services. Only business and professional services at 13 percent fared better in the speaker’s estimation, with IT, communications and software at 5 percent and media, fashion and music at 2.5 percent.

Sentence stressed the importance of tourism in a new growth pattern that the economy would have to adapt to. He said, ‘We’ve been through a serious recession and we’re in a different situation. We’ve come to the end of a long period of expansion and the conditions that dominated it are not likely to return. We’re in an era of relatively slow growth.’

Speaking directly to an influential audience in the industry, he added, ‘You’re not exempt from the ‘new normal’, but tourism and hospitality has a key role to play in driving growth.’

He continued, ‘The UK is forecast to do relatively well this year compared with other European economies.’

Maria Miller, the UK’s secretary of state for culture, also addressed the summit, during which she too stressed tourism’s value to the economy.