In a volatile time, America's travel industry remains robust, according to the U.S. Travel Association's latest Travel Trends Index. Travel volume in the U.S. rose by 4.4 percent in August over the year before, per the report, while domestic travel notched its fastest 12-month growth in four months, with continued healthy growth in leisure travel joined by a long-anticipated rise in domestic business travel.
Most notably, interest in the United States as a destination has grown both domestically and globally. According to lodging-search data from nSight, one of several sources used to develop the Index, international travelers planning trips within the next 60-90 days view the U.S. as a safer and more stable destination than Europe. In addition, greater numbers of domestic travelers are taking advantage of low fuel prices and choosing to stay closer to home this fall.
According to nSight, 80 percent of lodging searches by U.S. residents in August were domestic - the highest share recorded since U.S. Travel began tracking this data two years ago, and a 6 percent increase since May. The Southwest region of the U.S. experienced a significant boom in searches, likely spurred by August's National Park Service Centennial.
Additionally, America's share of international travel searches rose to 16 percent, up by 26 percent since May. Spain, the second-most-searched country, captured only 10 percent of searches. Though it remains to be seen whether this interest will translate into any significant growth in actual bookings, the lodging search numbers are welcome news for a U.S. travel industry that has had to clear some hurdles to sustain its growth throughout 2016.
"Although travel has outperformed the economic recovery overall, our grip on prolonged growth has felt tenuous at times because of the dollar's impressive run and a rogue's gallery of other concerning factors," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. "Between TSA's early-summer issues, Brexit, Zika and a tumultuous U.S. election cycle, it's been a year of news stories that don't particularly create the yearning to travel, particularly among internationals. Here is evidence that travelers around the world have been able to look past the headlines to see the reality: The U.S. is open for business."
The full TTI report finds that U.S. travel overall is expected to grow at a rate of around 1.4 percent through February 2017. For more findings, click here.