Skift Take

The U.S. travel industry is hurting and there are new numbers to prove how badly.

Total travel spending from both domestic and international travelers in the U.S. is forecast to plunge 45 percent by the end of 2020, and not expected to recover to pre-Covid numbers until into 2024, with international visitor spend maybe until 2025, according to new research from analytics firm Tourism Economics commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association.

Overall travel spending is expected to drop from a record $1.12 trillion in 2019 — a combination of domestic and international traveler spend — to $622 billion by the end of 2020. In addition, trips taken by American domestic travelers are expected to fall to 1.6 billion, a 30 percent drop and the lowest level in nearly 30 years.

As Skift reported Tuesday, there is some hope that would-be U.S. outbound travelers who can’t go abroad this year will pivot to being domestic travelers, but these new numbers still predict a significant loss.

In response to the forecast, the U.S. Travel Association is underlining its call for more fiscal relief efforts to be passed to benefit and assist travel industry companies.

“The data is telling us that travel and tourism has been more severely damaged than any other U.S. industry by the economic fallout of the health crisis,” U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement. “Given that travel employed one in 10 Americans and was the No. 2 U.S. export before the pandemic, supporting this industry through to the recovery phase ought to be a national priority.

The industry group is calling for four key measures to that end. The first is the expansion of the paycheck protection program to cover destination marketing organizations, something that has been called for since the CARES Act was first passed. The second is tax incentives to restart the travel economy, including a temporary travel tax credit to spur domestic demand. The third is protection from COVID-related lawsuits for compliant businesses. And the final is a federal backstop for pandemic risk insurance, ensuring that businesses have financial cover from future outbreaks.

“Our asks for lawmakers are substantial,” Barnes said. “But they’re also simple: we need relief, protection, and stimulus for the travel industry to make it past the worst of the crisis and help power an economic recovery.”


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Tags: coronavirus, u.s. travel association

Photo credit: U.S. retail is among the sectors that will lose out on travel spend in 2020. Krisztina Papp / Unsplash

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