by Allen J. Sheinman | September 12, 2018
New research from the U.S. Travel Association finds that travel to and within the U.S. grew by 3 percent in July 2018, year-over-year, but slowed in pace to put the nation further behind in a sustained global travel boom.
 
The latest Travel Trends Index found that growth in both domestic and international travel decelerated between June and July. According to U.S. Travel's Leading Travel Index, a part of the Travel Trends Index, this trend will continue for the next six months as domestic and international travel will continue to register gains, but at a slower rate than in the previous six months.
 
"While international inbound travel is growing, it continues to underperform the earlier years of the current economic expansion," said U.S. Travel senior vice president for research David Huether.
 
The Leading Travel Index projects that through next January, international travel will grow at a rate of 1.6 percent. Though the U.S. seeks to capitalize on the rapid expansion of travel that is happening worldwide, the nation's travel growth rate is not accelerating at a fast enough pace to allow it to regain its share of the global travel market, which peaked at 13.6 percent in 2015.
 
Meanwhile, supported by solid consumer and business spending and high consumer confidence, domestic travel continues to outpace international travel's rate of growth, according to the Travel Trends Index. Domestic business travel has been particularly strong, although rising labor costs have the potential to inhibit business investment and diminish consumer confidence, according to the research.
 
In related news, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow applauded the resumption of the release of data on international inbound visitation and spending by the National Travel and Tourism Office, reporting of which had been suspended for six months to fix anomalies in statistics culled from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Noting that the data echoed what U.S. Travel had reported, Dow emphasized that "while raw visitation figures have been slowly rising, they are not keeping pace with the explosive growth we are seeing in travel and tourism worldwide. U.S. market share has eroded, which indicates that the U.S. is not adequately harnessing global travel growth to keep adding jobs and exports to the national balance sheet.
 
"For a place that's as natural a draw for visitors as the U.S.," Dow continued, "the healthy global travel market represents a tremendous economic opportunity. Policymakers can take full advantage of it by supporting the Brand USA tourism marketing agency and working to enhance and expand secure visa programs."
 
The Travel Trends Index is prepared for U.S. Travel by research firm Oxford Economics and is based on public and private-sector data. The report draws from advance search and bookings data from ADARA and nSight; airline bookings data from the Airlines Reporting Corp. and room-demand data from STR.