International inbound travel to the United States in January grew at a year-over-year rate of 7.8 percent, according to the U.S. Travel Association's latest "Travel Trends Index
," released Tuesday morning (March 7). The figure was the highest percentage measured since May 2014. The increase capped a months-long streak of growth that defied projections of decline for the inbound sector, given factors such as a consistently strong U.S. dollar.
U.S. Travel economists noted that most of the data that went into the report was tallied before the original executive order on visa policy was issued by President Donald J. Trump on Jan. 27. Noting that "International inbound travel is proving to be more resilient than we expected," David Huether, the U.S. Travel Association's senior vice president for research, said that "It will be very interesting to see if that resilience will withstand the negative publicity surrounding the executive order." A complete set of data reflecting the post-executive order environment will be available in the April TTI, Huether said, adding, "It will be just as interesting to see if yesterday's revised order will have any soothing effect, for which we will see solid data in May."
Meanwhile, the TTI found the outlook for domestic business travel also strengthened in January, amid a climbing stock market that bolstered business confidence, and projections indicate this sector will likely grow at least through July 2017, reversing months of stagnation.
The TTI, developed by the U.S. Travel Association in partnership with Oxford Economics, draws from multiple sources to produce monthly reports. Data is based on sources such as hotel room demand figures from STR, airlines booking data from the Airlines Reporting Corp. and passenger enplanement statistics from Airlines for America.