Skift Take

Beyond a slump for travel, it appears that experts expect a global economic cooldown to happen in coming years. People will always need to travel, but stagnant growth will present a problem for the industry in North America.

Travel growth in the U.S. has slowed down in recent years, and the trend shows no signs of turning around.

The latest update from U.S. Travel’s monthly Travel Trends Index shows that while domestic tourism demand increased 2.8 percent year-over-year in March, international travel to the U.S. slowed by a significant 5.4 percent, the worst showing since 2015.

Here’s a breakdown of the index for March. A score of 50 represents no growth, below 50 means negative growth, while above 50 indicates positive growth.

U.S. Travel Travel Trends Index Prior 6-Month Average March 2019 6-Month Outlook
Total Market 51.5 51 Increasing Slower
International 50 47.3 Increasing Faster
Domestic 51.6 51.4 Increasing Slower
Business 51.4 51 Increasing Slower
Leisure 51.7 51.6 Increasing Slower

Source: U.S. Travel

“The outlook for international inbound travel remains lackluster, suggesting that a further loss of global market share is in the cards for the U.S. in 2019,” said David Huether, U.S. Travel’s senior vice president for research. “Acting on certain legislative initiatives, such as the long-term reauthorization of Brand USA and the enhancement and expansion of the Visa Waiver Program to include more qualified countries, can help reverse this trend.”

While the international numbers look bad, it could be a case of an especially strong March due to the Easter holidays from last year dragging down this year’s comparative results. But taken as a whole, the latest reports from U.S. Travel indicate that travel growth is flattening out. The group expects near-flat growth over the next six months, which doesn’t bode well for the upcoming summer travel season.

International inbound growth is expected to exceed domestic travel growth, mostly because it has been so weak over the beginning of 2019.

“Broad U.S. economic indicators have remained firm in the face of softer consumer spending and business investment, supporting expectations that overall economic cooling will be gradual,” said Adam Sacks, president of Oxford’s Tourism Economics group. “Domestic travel demand will likely follow a similar path. On the international front, the [forward-looking analysis] projects continued — albeit slower — travel growth.”

Check out the full report below.

Download (PDF, 325KB)


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Tags: tourism, us travel

Photo credit: Tourists in New York City's Times Square. Andreas Komodromos / Flickr

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