Skift Take

It's hard to imagine that a revitalized Brand USA will be able to counter the effects of an expensive dollar and the ramifications of President Trump's various trade war spats. The U.S. travel sector could be in for a tough 2020.

You’ll get different answers depending on who you ask about a Trump Slump in travel to the U.S. Demand for flights remain high, but destinations and hotels outside top destinations have noted a slight decline in business.

Evidence is mounting, though, that the U.S. travel sector could suffer in 2020.

While both tourism and business travel continue to grow, the rate of growth is expected to decline sharply according to new research from the U.S. Travel Association. Demand has slowed over the last year, and the prospect of a flat 2020 is certainly a possibility.

The group’s data show that the end of the year may prove tough for the industry, with year-over-year growth becoming essentially flat in November which is expected to boast just 2 percent growth.

What’s most worrisome is a decline in expectations for international inbound travel, which reflect the potential for little to no year-over-year growth for the remainder of the year.

“Headwinds like the strong dollar and lingering trade tensions indicate sluggish growth for international inbound travel, but the much-needed work of the Brand USA destination marketing organization has prevented a further constriction,” said David Huether, U.S. Travel’s senior vice president for research, in a statement. “Political leaders would be wise to act on policies that can help us thrive in spite of these challenging circumstances, such as Brand USA’s long-term reauthorization and the expansion of the Visa Waiver Program.”

Business travel growth continues to be weighed down by the trade war between the U.S. and China as well as Brexit. Weather disruptions impacted business travel earlier in the year but things seem to have gotten back on track.

There’s also the potential for reduced trade tensions as the U.S. approaches the 2020 elections as a potential buoy to future travel demand.

“Soft global economic activity, prolonged and expanding trade tensions, and uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration remain major risks to international traveler sentiment,” states the report. “Ongoing U.S.-China, U.S.-Mexico-Canada, and U.K.-Eurozone trade discussions, if resolved, may ease these downside risks.”

Strong leisure travel across the U.S. is helping prop up the industry as it feels a reduction in international visitors. How long this will last is anyone’s guess.

Check out the full report below.

Download (PDF, 324KB)


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Tags: tourism, us travel

Photo credit: Tourists in Chicago's Millennium Park. Phil Roeder / Flickr

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