The U.S. continues to lag behind international travel growth worldwide, according to the latest forecast released by the U.S. Travel Association. Global long-haul travel is projected to grow an average of 4.8 percent annually through 2023, but the pace of travel growth to the U.S. is expected to be half of that figure, at 2.4 percent.
The gap will continue to widen, with the U.S. share of global travel dropping to 10.4 percent by 2023, continuing a steady slide from a high of 13.7 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
The continuing decline through 2023 would translate to a loss to the U.S. economy of a further $78 billion in visitor spending and 130,000 American jobs. Since the 2015 high, the U.S. economy already has lost $59 billion and 120,000 jobs through 2018, per U.S. Travel Association statistics.
"International inbound travel is the No. 2 U.S. export, and making its pace of growth a national priority could be a difference-maker in helping to keep the country out of a recession," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "Right now, the country is not capturing the full economic potential of overseas travel, but there are some turnkey policy solutions that could help to address that -- starting with congressional reauthorization of the Brand USA tourism marketing organization."
As noted this week in the Wall Street Journal, the crucial U.S. services export sector -- led by travel -- faces significant headwinds in the current global economic environment. Equally worrisome is projected soft growth in the typically strong domestic travel market, which the U.S. Travel report forecasts will increase by just 1.4 percent in 2020, the slowest pace in four years, further stoking fears of an economic slowdown and underscoring the importance of bolstering global travel demand.
Supported by a unique funding model at no cost to U.S. taxpayers, Brand USA is crucial program for ensuring the U.S. remains competitive in the race for international tourism dollars and their resulting economic benefits. The agency will expire next year without immediate action by Congress.
Brand USA's marketing efforts over the past six years have brought 6.6 million incremental visitors to the U.S., generating $47.7 billion in economic impact and supporting nearly 52,000 American jobs annually.