New coalition aims to reverse declining international travel to the United States

A new business coalition hopes to work with the Trump administration to reverse declining international travel to the United States.

The Visit U.S. Coalition, which launched today, consists of trade groups that represent many travel-related businesses and workers.

As global travel increased 8 percent over the last two years, the U.S. share of that travel fell — from 13.6 percent in 2015 to 11.9 percent in 2017, according to data cited by the coalition.

International travelers spent $246 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), which is member of the coalition. About half of the 75.6 million foreign visitors that year were from Mexico and Canada.

President Donald Trump blocked travel from several largely Muslim countries, has proposed an end to so-called “chain immigration” and wants to erect a wall at the Mexico border. Visit U.S. cites the strong U.S. dollar, low-cost air travel and stronger air travel security as factors hurting international travel here.

In the coming weeks, Visit U.S. said it will propose policy recommendations. In addition to USTA, the coalition’s founding members include the American Gaming Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

 

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Is U.S. travel increasing despite or because of election?

The U.S. presidential election didn’t put a damper on U.S. travel in November as some expected.

In fact, business and leisure travel within and to the United States that month increased at a faster-than-average pace over the last six months, according to the Travel Trends Index released this week by the U.S. Travel Association and Oxford Economics. And travel is expected to continue to grow in the next six months even with some continued uncertainty.

After Donald Trump’s election win in November, “we were prepared to see a wary short-term reaction, particularly in demand for inbound international travel to the U.S.,” U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow  said in a statement.”Not only has no downturn materialized, but we have seen surprising strengthening in some areas, particularly the long-foundering domestic business travel segment.”

The travel uptick mirrors the rallying stock market, steady employment growth and other positive economic indicators. It should be noted that many of those indicators already were on an upward trend for many months before the election.

stock-graph
Stocks have rallied across indices: the Dow Jones Industrial Average (green line), the Standard & Poor’s 500 (blue line) and the Nasdaq (red line). Graphic is for the last six months. (Yahoo Finance)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, one of the nation’s best stock baromoters, has gained 1,633 points since election day. Moreover, the Dow closed above 19,000 on Nov. 22 — for the first time in its 120-year history– and has been trading above that mark ever since then as investors expect more business-friendly regulations under Trump.

Today, the Dow was down 63 points as of 2:35 EST from Wednesday.

November travel trends

Travel within the United States accelerated in November, continuing a six-year expansion, according to the Travel Trends Index.

Most of the gains came from domestic leisure travel, which grew faster than domestic business travel. Still, domestic business travel reversed a trend where it was the only index segment to spend most of 2016 in negative territory.

International travel to the United States also rose in November, but at a slower pace due to pressures, such as global political and security disruptions and the strong U.S. dollar.

Outlook

Uncertainty still exists until Americans see more details about President-elect Trump’s policies.

The U.S. Travel Association predicts that overall U.S. travel will increase at an annual rate of about 1.8 percent through May, thanks to solid employment growth and healthy consumer spending. Once again, that growth will be led by domestic leisure travel based on forward-looking travel bookings, searches and vacation plans.

Adam Sacks, president of Oxford’s tourism economics group, expects international travel growth early this year will remain sluggish—and possibly decline—due to ongoing global political turmoil and the strong U.S. dollar.