International travel to U.S. continues downward trend

Photo credit: Pixabay/Markus Spiske

Travel to and within the United States posted its worst performance (+2.4 percent) in June since September 2018, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s most recent Travel Trends Index.

Researchers noted that the most concerning figure from the report is the 0.8 percent contraction of international inbound travel. This figure brought the sector’s six-month trend below zero for the first time since September 2015. The Leading Travel Index, which is the predictive component of the TTI, projects international inbound travel growth will remain just below zero over the next six months, with an approximate decline of 0.2 percent.

This decrease in international inbound travel is consistent with the USTA's forecast, which shows that America's share of the global long-haul travel market will fall from its current 11.7 percent to below 10.9 percent by 2022. Contributing factors of the decline include: the strength of the U.S. dollar; prolonged and rising trade tensions; and competition from rivals for tourism business, according to USTA economists.

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Additionally, domestic travel has struggled, decreasing 0.2 percent in June after showing positive signs in the previous month. Cooling business investment and ongoing trade conflicts weighed on domestic business travel and will continue to do so through the rest of 2019, researchers noted. One bright spot in the TTI was the strength of domestic leisure travel, which expanded 3.8 percent and is on par with the segment’s six-month trend.

The LTI projects overall U.S. travel volume will grow 1.8 percent through December, while domestic travel overall will grow 2 percent.