by Allen J. Sheinman | February 02, 2016

Travel to and within the U.S. leveled off at the end of 2015 and should show moderate growth in early 2016, according to a new report from the U.S. Travel Association. While domestic leisure travel continues so strengthen, thanks to rising wages and low gas prices, the report found that business travel contracted last last year due to volatile markets and rising interest rates. 

These findings were revealed in U.S. Travel's inaugural Travel Trends Index, developed by the organization's economic research team to both track and predict the volume and pace of travel to and within the U.S. The TTI will be released on the first Tuesday of each month.

This month's TTI - which measures travel trends as of December 2015 - also predicts a slight recovery for the business travel segment in the first half of 2016. Inbound international travel, while still on a slight growth trajectory, has leveled off considerably due to the strong U.S. dollar, according to the index.

The TTI draws from multiple data sources to develop a monthly reading of both international inbound and domestic business and leisure travel numbers, and predicts the likely average pace and direction of these travelers over upcoming three- and six-month periods. 

"The clear picture that the TTI provides of the economic trajectory of travel will enable both federal policymakers and members of our industry to make informed decisions," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. "The indispensability of travel and tourism to the broader economy has been evident for some time, but now we have the definitive resource for measuring both its recent and future performance."

The TTI consists of the Current Travel Index, which measures the number of person trips involving hotel stays and/or flights each month, and the Leading Travel Index, which measures the likely average pace and direction of business and leisure travel, both domestic and international inbound. The index was developed in partnership with Oxford Economics, using data from sources such as Airlines for America, the Airlines Reporting Corp. and STR.