Tourism is the United Kingdom's fifth largest industry. It contributes over £86 billion a year to the national economy and supports, both directly and indirectly, over 2.7 million jobs.
However, the number of overseas visitors to these shores has fallen this year compared with previous ones. But outbound visits by UK residents have also fallen, and these were 6 per cent. lower in January to February 2009 than they were in the same period last year. This offers a potentially good prospect for domestic tourism at a time when current projections show employment in the tourism and hospitality industry will grow by almost 10 per cent. by 2017, creating over 200,000 additional jobs.
Other opportunities the industry is well placed to exploit include: favourable currency exchange rates; the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; the unprecedented number of high level sports events in the UK in the decade between 2009 and 2019; the Cultural Olympiad and, potentially, the UK City of Culture Competition.
These opportunities, combined with the UK's enviable heritage and attractions, mean that the contribution that the tourism industry would make to the UK's economic recovery could be considerable.