Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

U.S. Tourism Data: International Travelers Fuel Recovery

4 months ago

International travel to the U.S. continues to make a post-pandemic recovery, according to new data on international air travelers released Monday by the U.S.’s National Travel and Tourism Office. International air travelers spent $18.9 billion in the U.S. in the second quarter, up 33% from the same period in 2022.

The data provided telling statistics. Below are some key facts about overseas travel, i.e., not from Mexico or Canada, in the second quarter:

  • On average, overseas travelers had an income of $95,311, stayed 19 days, and spent $1,933 on their trips.
  • Over 7.7 million travelers came to the U.S. from overseas markets. Europe was the top contributor at over 3.3 million.
  • About 61% of overseas travelers took their trips solo, while 20% took theirs with a spouse or partner, and 16% took theirs with family or relatives.
  • Vacation was the top reason at 53%, which was the same level in the second quarter of 2022.
  • More overseas travelers took trips to the U.S. for business in the second quarter at 18%, up from 14% last year.
Top Destinations for Overseas Visitors
New York
Florida
California

What about travelers from Canada and Mexico, you ask?

Over 720,000 air travelers came from Mexico to the U.S. On average, Mexican travelers spent $1,271 per trip. Below were their favorite destinations in the second quarter:

Top Destinations for Mexican Visitors
Texas
California
Florida

Over 2.6 million air travelers came from Canada. On average, Canadian travelers spent $1,164 per trip. Below were their favorite destinations in the second quarter:

Top Destinations for Canadian Visitors
Florida
California
Nevada

A growing share of Canadian, Mexican and overseas travelers cited business travel as a top reason for taking a trip to the U.S. in the second quarter.

Tourism

International Travel to U.S. Hit 84% of Pre-Pandemic Level in July

4 months ago

Nearly 6.5 million international travelers came to the U.S. in July, representing 84% of its pre-pandemic level, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data release. Compared to July 2022, international travel to the U.S. is up 25%.

International travelers from overseas, i.e. not Mexico and Canada, totaled 3.1 million in July, up 21% from the same month last year. The United Kingdom, France and Germany were top overseas source countries for the U.S. in July.

Over 10.6 million Americans traveled abroad in July, which was up 17% from the same month in 2022 and 99% of its pre-pandemic level, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

Europe was the largest outbound overseas destination for Americans traveling abroad in July, having welcomed 2.3 million Americans traveling abroad, up 13% from the same month last year.

Hotels

Choice Hotels Opens Properties at Faster Pace and Reaffirms Profit Outlook

8 months ago

Choice Hotels, a U.S.-based franchisor, said on Tuesday it had opened an average of more than four hotels a week in the first half of 2023 — a 39% jump year-over-year. The steady onboarding of properties was one reason it reaffirmed its profit forecast for the year despite some industry concerns about leisure demand patterns in the U.S. going into reverse.

Choice Hotels opened 107 hotels in the first half of the year, with an increase in conversion hotel openings of 45% and a rise in new construction hotel openings of 24%. The gains were impressive in a hotel sector where interest rate uncertainty had raised concerns about the willingness of banks to endorse hotel development.

The first-half openings growth was across all segments. Openings in the upscale segment were by 83%, the midscale segment by 42%, the extended stay segment by 50%, and the economy segment by 11%.

“The company remains optimistic about extended stay franchise business growth and expects the number of its extended stay units to increase at an average annual growth rate of more than 15% over the next five years,” it said in a statement.

The positive news helped the company re-commit to its previously provided financial guidance for full-year 2023, where it forecasts net income — a measure of profit — of between $255 and $265 million.

The news is positive at a time when analysts have become more cautious about the hotel sector. For more context, see “Analysts Pare Back Enthusiasm for Hotel Companies.”

Investors closely watch trends in another metric, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). The news on that front was also positive relative to its peers.

“In 2024, Choice Hotels expects to generate more than 10% adjusted EBITDA growth at the midpoint, year-over-year, driven by approximately $20 million in incremental contribution from [the merger with] Radisson Hotels Americas as well as organic growth in more revenue intense segments and markets, strong effective royalty rate growth, and other factors.”

For more, see “Choice Hotels’ Brands, Explained.”

What is Choice Hotels?
Choice Hotels International, Inc. is a hotel operator based in Rockville, Maryland. The company operates nearly 7,500 hotels spanning 22 brands, including its flagship upper-midscale brand Comfort and roadside midscale brand Quality Inn. The company’s strategy consists of expanding its portfolio with hotels that generate higher royalties per unit, meaning higher-end properties. In addition to this, Choice Hotels also has a loyalty program known as Choice Privileges.

These are the most relevant articles I found:

Morgan Stanley Flags Headwinds for Hotel Companies – 06/30/2023

Choice Hotels Explores Buying Wyndham: Report – 05/23/2023

The Wyndham-Choice Merger Skeptics – 05/25/2023

Tourism

U.S. Visitor Visa Wait Times in India Drop by 50 Percent

10 months ago

The amount of time a first-time visitor visa applicant in India has to wait for an interview has fallen from an average of 669 days in mid-March to 337 days in early April, a 50 percent drop, according to the U.S. Travel Association. 

The industry lobby group attributed the wait time reduction to the State Department’s initiatives this year to reduce the visa backlog. In India, it has put in place a number of initiatives, such as bringing processing staff in on weekends, making embassies available to Indian nationals in other countries and hiring more staff.

“The results we’re seeing in India are proof that—with the right tools—State can make significant progress on this issue,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman in a statement. “However, there is clearly more work ahead to lower wait times worldwide.”

India is one of the U.S.’s top source markets that are experiencing long visa processing times, which reinforces a Skift megatrend that border bottlenecks will slow the recovery of international travel. Brazil, Mexico and Colombia wait times are at 511 days, 590 days and 752 days, respectively, as of April 14, according to U.S. Travel. The State Department has put in place initiatives in those countries similar to the ones it put in India.

Applicants in India had an especially absurd wait time. In January, for example, they had to wait 999 days for an interview at the Mumbai embassy. 

The country’s rough visa situation was caused by embassies being “shut down completely” by a presidential proclamation during the pandemic combined with the country’s historically high (and now pent-up) demand for all visa categories, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services Julie Stufft in an interview with Skift.

U.S. Travel encouraged the State Department to continue the initiatives that have proven effective in India in other countries. It also pointed out that competitors are taking away U.S. global travel market share by allowing visa-free travel from the visa backlogged markets. The European Union, for example, allows travelers from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Israel and Venezuela to visit without a visa.

“No one will wait years for a visa to visit the U.S. when so many other countries welcome global travelers with open arms,” said Freeman. “The State Department must continue to make international visitors an economic priority before we lose them to other destinations.”