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Failure to expand airports 'could torpedo travel trade'

21.09.07

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), an influential travel trade body, has warned the Government that it could be committing 'economic suicide' if it fails to back the expansion of Britain's leading airports, including Stansted and Heathrow, the Business magazine reports. Travel & tourism leaders held a special summit to address the urgent need for better infrastructure in the UK based on forecast growth.

The UK as the fifth largest travel & tourism economy in the world, contributing 9.1% of GDP and 8.5% of employment in 2007. It is expected to generate over £190 billion in 2007 - growing faster than the rate of inflation between 2008 and 2017. However, infrastructure constraints were jeopardising economic prospects and seriously affecting the experience of millions of travellers.

The WTTC said that the many positives were being buried under a tide of negatives because of the 'mismanagement of increasing pressures on its infrastructure system, most notably at the main airport hubs.'

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, WTTC president, warned that the UK government must react now to maintain this strong economic position, otherwise the impact would heavily affect the UK's travel and tourism industry and wider economy.

He added: 'The current focus is on climate change and this industry cannot be demonised as the cause. It is quite simple - efficient infrastructure and less congestion will have a positive impact on the environment.'

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