by Loren G. Edelstein | May 04, 2017
International inbound travel growth continues to avoid an outright decline, remaining in positive territory in March 2017, but the sector's more modest growth compared with the same period a year before underscores a projected slowdown in the months ahead, according to the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Trends Index.

Numerous reports have held that international travel to the U.S. has measurably declined as a direct result of President Donald Trump's executive orders on visas and immigration, the first of which was issued on Jan. 27. However, U.S. Travel economists note that the strong dollar, coupled with a weakening global economy, already were influencing travel patterns, and the effects of the executive orders would not have shown up in economic data instantaneously.

Because of lag times between searches for international travel to the U.S. and the actual trips taken -- 56.9 days on average, according to data provided to U.S. Travel by the research firm ADARA -- any fallout from the Trump executive orders would begin to be captured in April travel data.

Therefore, the most comprehensive measurement of the executive order's effects to date will be offered by the Travel Trends Index due to be released on June 6.

"Think about it: Practically no one who travels internationally books a trip, then gets on a plane the next day," said David Huether, U.S. Travel's senior vice president for research. "It takes nearly two full months for the average traveler to search for a trip online, book it, then actually travel."
 
Overall, travel to and within the U.S. grew at a faster year-over-year rate in March 2017 than in February 2017. Domestic travel posted strong growth, with business travel growth notably surpassing leisure travel, thanks in part to the timing of holidays like Easter and Passover this year.

As with many economic indicators, a TTI reading of 50 or more indicates positive growth, while a reading below 50 indicates decline. International inbound travel's Current Travel Index (CTI) reading of 50.2 shows that the sector grew in March, albeit at a much slower year-over-year pace than in previous months.