. Why the U.S. Is Missing Out on the Surging Global Travel Market | Meetings & Conventions

Why the U.S. Is Missing Out on the Surging Global Travel Market

New projections from the U.S. Travel Association suggest inbound travel growth will be positive, albeit slower, over the next six months, registering at or just below 1 percent.


The month of April brought an increase of travel to and within the United States, according to the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Trends Index (TTI), a monthly measures of the direction and pace of travel volume to and within the United States. The new TTI notes there was a 3 percent spike in April 2019 compared with April 2018. And courtesy of the timing of Easter, there was a 5.6 percent surge in year-over-year international travel as well. 

The increase seen in April is a one-off case, according to the predictive Leading Travel Index (LTI), which has a record of accurately forecasting U.S. government arrivals data. The LTI warns that the growth of the inbound international market will slow over the next six months, to 0.8 percent by October, due to a deceleration across all travel segments.

Within the U.S., The TTI notes a 2.6 percent increase in domestic travel demand that was entirely supported by the leisure segment, because of the April holidays. "Business-travel demand was likely impacted by both Easter and Passover, as meetings and conventions tend to shift to other months," reads the report. "Looking ahead, leisure travel is expected to grow at a faster pace than business travel. Vacation intentions slowed slightly but remain in healthy territory, and forward-looking bookings and searches point to continued growth."

The international forecast adds to the growing concern that the country is missing out on the surging global travel market. Long-haul visitors to the U.S., for example, grew at half the pace of the international market worldwide in 2018 - 3.5 percent versus 7 percent.

"Long-haul visitors to the U.S. are solid economic gold, spending more than $4,000 per person, per trip while consuming virtually no public services," said David Huether, senior vice president of research for U.S. Travel. "Those valuable travelers are taking trips in the strongest numbers ever, but there is more the U.S. should be doing to compete for their business."

As for what can reverse the trend, Huether suggests implementing existing proposals: rolling out biometrics security scanning, expanding the Visa Waiver Program and Customs Preclearance, and renewing the Brand USA marketing organization.