Report: Domestic, international travel to U.S. to slow this year

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Travel to and within the United States grew 3.2 percent year-over-year in May, according to the U.S. Travel Association's latest Travel Trends Index. This marks the industry's 113th straight month of overall expansion.

While this is up slightly from April's 3 percent overall growth, the Leading Travel Index, which is the part of the TTI that measures future direction and pace over the coming three to six months, predicts travel growth will soften through November 2019 as all travel segments experience softer growth.

“Headwinds like the strong dollar and lingering trade tensions indicate sluggish growth for international inbound travel, but the much-needed work of the Brand USA destination marketing organization has prevented a further constriction,” said David Huether, the USTA's senior VP for research.

International travel grew 1.2 percent in May, following three months of wide fluctuations due to the timing of Easter, which historically has been a peak travel time for visitors to the U.S. Over the next six months, the LTI predicts international travel growth will slow to 0.4 percent.

However, the outlook is brighter on the domestic travel side, according to the report. Domestic travel demand increased 3.6 percent in May, boosted by growth in both the business travel and leisure travel segments.

But weakening consumer spending and business investment is projected to constrain domestic travel growth over the next six months. The LTI predicts domestic travel growth will expand 2 percent through November, with leisure travel outpacing business travel growth. Vacation intentions from January through April 2019 registered above 2018 levels over the same period, and forward-looking bookings and searches support predictions of continued, albeit moderate, growth.

“Domestic leisure travel has been a source of solid demand for the travel industry over the past several years,” Huether said. “This has been especially important given the impediments to international inbound travel growth.”