Industry Update
Performance13 November 2019

International Travel to the U.S. Contracts for the Fifth Month of 2019

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U.S. Travel Association (USTA)

Travel to and within the United States grew 2.2 percent year-over-year in September, according to the U.S. Travel Association's latest Travel Trends Index (TTI), marking the industry's 117th straight month of growth. However, international travel to the United States contracted 0.4 percent in September, marking the fifth month in negative territory in 2019. The Leading Travel Index (LTI), the predictive element of the TTI, projects inbound international travel volume will decline 0.6 percent over the next six months as prolonged trade tensions and the high value of the dollar continue to weigh on demand for travel to the United States.

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"There is a global travel boom, but too many of those visitor dollars are going to places other than the U.S., which is leaving jobs, exports, and economic growth on the table," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "Opportunities are at hand to create an environment for growth, and we can and should do everything possible to get there."

Though there are numerous factors, Dow emphasized renewing Brand USA, the destination marketing organization tasked with promoting travel to the United States. U.S. Travel Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Barnes told a House subcommittee last week that Brand USA keeps the U.S. competitive in the global travel market and prevents the U.S. slide in global travel market share from being worse.

"There is significant bipartisan support for Brand USA, and committees in both the House and Senate are doing their job to advance the bill," Dow said. "The next step is to persuade leadership in both chambers that in reality, this is something that needs to get done this year to avoid real economic consequences."

Once again, the bright spot of the TTI was the strength of domestic travel: the segment as a whole expanded 2.4 percent in September, buoyed by domestic leisure travel's 3 percent growth.

While vacation intentions remain elevated, there may be trouble ahead for both the business and leisure sectors of domestic travel as forward-looking bookings and search data indicate uncertainty on the horizon. The LTI projects domestic travel growth will slow to 1.4 percent in the coming six months.

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