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United States focuses on Int’l Travel Market as the LTI projects decline

The U.S. Travel Association’s latest – August 2019 – Travel Trends Index (TTI) marked the industry’s 116th straight month of growth. Domestic travel grew while International inbound travel stayed flat.

The bright spot in the TTI was the strength of the domestic leisure travel segment, which expanded 4% while vacation intentions reached their highest level in 2019 thus far. However, forward-looking bookings and search data indicate there may be uncertainty on the horizon for the domestic segment: the Leading Travel Index (LTI), the TTI’s predictive element, projects domestic travel growth will soften to just 1.8% in the coming six months.

Domestic travel as a whole grew 3.4%, dragged down slightly by a weakening domestic business travel segment (1.2%), though business travel is expected to pick up again and expand 1.6% over the next six months.

“While the travel engine is not firing on all cylinders, the overall pace of travel through the first eight months of this year is solid,” said U.S. Travel Senior Vice President of Research David Huether.

International inbound travel—which has experienced a roller coaster of growth spurts and contraction in 2019—was flat in August. While this is a slight improvement from the 1.2% decline registered in July, it is not the hoped-for sign of international inbound travel’s revival. Over the next six months, the LTI projects the segment will decline by 0.6% as it faces continuing obstacles in the form of trade tensions and the strength of the dollar.

usa august travel report2019

Policy changes to help mitigate the effects of these challenges include the long-term reauthorization of the Brand USA destination marketing organization, expanding the Visa Waiver Program to include more qualified countries, and improving Customs wait times.

Brand USA has kept the U.S. competitive in the global travel market and prevented the decline in our country’s share of global travel from being worse,” said Huether. “It is crucial that Congress works quickly to reauthorize Brand USA this year to ensure the future of the United States’ travel promotion and planning.”

Earlier leaders of the largest travel corporations in the country issued a rare joint statement with a straightforward prescription for Congress and the administration to halt the slide: reauthorize Brand USA.

USA to join the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

usa unwto meetingA high-level delegation from the United States Department of State has met with head of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as the country moves closer to rejoining the United Nations specialized agency for tourism.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashili underscored that “it is extremely encouraging that the United States has clearly signaled its intention to rejoin UNWTO and support tourism as a key driver of job creation, investments and entrepreneurship and safeguarding natural and cultural heritage the world over”.

Travel is America’s second-largest industry export, generating a trade surplus last year of $69 billion—without which the overall national trade deficit would have been 11% higher. However, that positive balance of trade is jeopardized by America’s slipping share of the global travel market, which dropped from 13.7% in 2015 to its current 11.7%.

Joining the UNWTO will offer great potential to fuel economic growth in the U.S. travel and tourism industry, will create new jobs for American workers, and highlight American travel destinations to international travelers.

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