U.S. Share of Travel Market Continues Decline

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A new forecast by U.S. Travel Association found that “sluggish demand” for overseas travel to the United States could continue through 2023. “The country is falling behind international travel growth worldwide,” according to U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.

Travel to the U.S. is still projected to grow at 2.4 percent, but that is half of the estimate for global long-haul travel, which is on track to clock in at 4.8 percent growth for the next three years.

That gap will further diminish the U.S. share of the total long-haul travel market to 10.4 percent by 2023, a 3 percent decline from its previous high of 13.7 percent in 2015. Dow estimates that the loss in market share over four years would mean a loss to the U.S. economy of $78 billion in visitor spending and 130,000 American jobs.

“International inbound travel is the No. 2 U.S. export, and making its pace of growth a national priority could be a difference-maker in helping to keep the country out of a recession,” said Dow. He suggested policy solutions that could help to address the decline, starting with congressional reauthorization of the Brand USA tourism marketing organization.

A new American Express Meetings & Events 2020 Global meetings and Events Forecast noted that there have been challenges with securing visas for some travelers to attend meetings in the United States, resulting in some people being unable to attend an event. “Group air specialists are taking this into account and whenever possible avoiding booking routes that transit the U.S. for nationalities who might need a visa,” the study reported. It also found a shift to more regional incentive programs rather than bringing everyone together from international offices to get around the travel challenges.

The report noted new airplane technology and an increase in direct international flight options—including one from the U.S. west coast to New Zealand—as advances that could improve travel experiences.

Domestic Slowing

The U.S. Travel report also projected soft growth in the domestic travel market, which the U.S. Travel report forecasts will increase by just 1.4 percent in 2020, the slowest pace in four years. The American Express Meetings and Events study projected increasing rates for North American air travel—to the tune of 3.2 percent.

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