Skift Take

While normalization of U.S. domestic leisure travel demand was expected, it is the increase in inbound international travel that has the U.S. Travel Association excited.

The U.S. Travel Association has unveiled its biannual travel forecast and the data that jumped out to the group was the strong inbound international travel. It now stands at 84 percent of 2019 levels and is estimated to reach 99 percent in 2024.

“The forecast for the inbound international travel significantly upgraded, which is quite good for spending here in the U.S.,” said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice-President Public Affairs and Policy Tori Barnes.

According to the forecast, inbound international spending is up 33.7 percent from a year ago and is estimated to reach $133 billion in 2023. The group expects it to hit $185 billion by 2026.

While Barnes remains cautious about potential inflation and a recession, she acknowledged the promising growth, which is a global trend according to the recent Skift Travel Health Index.

“People are maybe not investing as much in goods, but they are still investing in travel.”

The forecast also highlighted the normalization of U.S. domestic leisure travel demand, which was expected. It is anticipated to remain strong but with stabilized growth rates of around two percent in 2023 and 2024.

“The pandemic created an extraordinary pent-up demand. It makes sense now that travelers have gone and taken their couple of vacations and now are on a more normal path of travel,” she said. 

In the report, the U.S. Travel Association cited four key federal policy areas to continue and maintain this growth:

  • Improve the overall air travel experience through the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.
  • Lower U.S. visitor visa interview wait times, which currently exceed an average of 500 days in top visa-requiring inbound markets.
  • Reduce customs wait times at U.S. airports and other ports of entry experiencing excessive delays.
  • Increase federal prioritization and focus on travel industry growth, as other countries have done.

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Tags: domestic leisure travel

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