Skift Take

International travel to the U.S. remained strong in February, probably because travelers still went on trips they had planned months in advance. Domestic business travel, however, has begun to decrease.

While the Trump administration’s initial travel ban was announced in late January, the U.S. did not experience decreased international visitation in February according to the latest Travel Trends Index from the U.S. Travel Association.

Travel demand overall increased in February, albeit at a lower rate than in January. Projections for travel growth over the next three and six months suggest an overall increase as well.

The most worrisome takeaway from the report is that domestic business travel slipped into negative territory on the U.S. Travel Association’s index, meaning that a slowdown has occurred. The rate of growth in international travel slowed as well, but is still increasing for the time being.

“While domestic leisure travel growth remained positive in February, the domestic leisure [travel index] reflected the sector’s slowest year-over-year growth in over four years,” reads the report. “At the same time, domestic business travel slipped into negative territory in February. However, an uptick in vacation intentions and positive growth in forward-looking bookings, as well as a stronger outlook on business activity, bodes well for the domestic travel market in coming months.”

Uncertainty Is Here to Stay

The U.S. Travel Association cautions observers that its research does not suggest the uncertainty surrounding international travel to the U.S. isn’t affecting travelers.

“It’s important to remember that there is a significant lag time between searches for international trips and when they’re actually booked, and then another lag between bookings and the actual trip — typically a matter of months,” said David Huether, senior vice president for research at the U.S. Travel Association. “There’s a lot of data out there purporting to show a drop in international travel to the U.S. because of President Trump’s executive order, but the reality is we do not have a definitive data picture of the order’s impact yet.”

In other words: a clearer picture should be available in a few months, so stay tuned. International inbound leisure and business travel are slated already to decrease slightly through August 2017, with those losses offset by gains in domestic travel.

You can check out the full report below.

Download (PDF, 259KB)


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Tags: business travel

Photo credit: Domestic business travel has hit a slump, while international travel to the U.S. continues to grow. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is pictured here. George Thomas / Flickr

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