Travel Group: International Travel Still Growing Despite Slowdown Worries
The latest numbers from the U.S. Travel Association show that travel to the United States from other countries is holding steady despite worries that recent White House actions would lead to a decrease in visitors. The association is still warning of a long-term slowdown, however.
Recent controversy over policies affecting international travel to the United States, whether the “Muslim ban” or the proposed “laptop ban,” doesn’t seem to have yet seriously dampened the flow of travelers from other countries into the United States.
In fact, the findings from the U.S. Travel Association’s most recent Travel Trends Index, conducted in partnership with Oxford Economics, show that international travel to the United States went up in May by 5.2 percent compared to 2016. Additionally, the association revised its April numbers upward, showing a 6.6 percent increase. The April period is significant because it represents the first full month to reflect the response to President Trump’s immigration executive order. (The order, which has been challenged as unconstitutional, was struck down by several courts earlier this year, but the Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect partially last month, pending its full decision in the case.)
Meanwhile, the latest global traffic passenger statistics from the International Air Transport Association, also released last week, found that global travel in general has managed to maintain its upward trend. IATA found that global travel increased by 7.6 percent in May compared to the same period in 2016. Only the Middle East failed to see an increase in passenger load in May, and only North America and the Middle East didn’t hit record highs for capacity that month, the group said.
But U.S. Travel also pointed out weaknesses in the Travel Trends Index numbers, saying that domestic travel will likely drive growth through the end of the year, but it estimates only 1.8 percent growth between May and November.
The index ranks industries based on a 100-point scale, with any score above 50 representing industry expansion. After a slow period for domestic business travel, which had fallen by 5.5 points between March and April, it bounced back to 51.1 in the index, a sizable jump from April’s 47.8.
In a news release, U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow said the report bucked expectations.
“There is widespread talk of daunting challenges to the U.S. travel market—perception of the country abroad is mentioned most, but the strong dollar and slowing global economy are factors as well—yet the resilience of our sector continues to astound,” Dow said. “Tourism marketing efforts at the federal, state, and local level undoubtedly deserve a large measure of credit, and policymakers need to be aware of the large dividends these programs are paying for economic activity, jobs, and tax revenues.”