Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

U.S. Traveler Spending Abroad Reached Nearly $16 Billion in January, a New High

9 months ago

Americans traveling abroad spent over $15.8 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, other countries in January, more than any single month prior to the pandemic, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

International visitors spent over $14.7 billion in January on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the U.S., causing the U.S. to experience a balance of trade deficit of nearly $1.1 billion in travel spending. That’s the third time in the past six months that the U.S. experienced a monthly trade deficit in travel spending. Compared to January 2021, international visitor spending rose nearly 64 percent in January.

Spending on travel and tourism-related goods and services, which include lodging and entertainment, totaled $7.9 billion in January, down from $11.5 billion for the same period in 2019.

Tourism

International Travel Volume to the U.S. Set to Rise 20 Percent to Over 62 Million in 2023

10 months ago

The U.S. will receive 62.8 million international visitors in 2023, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. That’s a 21.2 percent rise from 51.8 million in 2022, but it’s still below its 2019 level of 79.4 million.

Next year, international visitor volume will be around its pre-pandemic level. The National Travel and Tourism Office forecasts it will hit 79.9 million in 2024, slightly up from its pre-pandemic 2019. Volume will surpass 2019 levels and be fully recovered with 82.4 million in 2025. By 2027, the total will reach 91 million.

At its current recovery pace, the Commerce Department will exceed its strategic goal to have 90 million international visitors by 2027. The National Travel and Tourism Office sits under the Commerce Department.

Inbound travel from the U.S.’s overseas markets, which excludes Canada and Mexico, will be 29.2 million in 2023, down from 40.4 million in 2019. Overseas volume won’t reach its pre-pandemic volume of 40.3 million until 2027.

The U.S.’s top inbound market recovery speeds will vary. Canada’s, the U.S.’s top inbound market in 2019, for example, won’t exceed its 2019 level of 20.7 million until 2025. India, in contrast, will exceed its 2019 volume next year with 1.5 million, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

Tourism

International Travel Volume to U.S. Rose 61 Percent to Over 4 Million in November

10 months ago

The number of international visitors to the U.S. reached 4.6 million in November, up 61 percent year over year, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. November’s volume represented 76 percent of pre-pandemic November 2019’s.

Last month, the National Travel and Tourism Office reported international visitor spending rose 57 percent year over year to $15.9 billion in November. From January to November, international visitors to the U.S. spent more than $146 billion, up more than 103 year over year.

U.S. Canada, Mexico, the UK, Brazil and Germany were the largest contributors in terms of international visitors for November. Those countries made up 69 percent of total international volume for the month. Among the U.S.’s top markets, Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic were the only countries to experience a drop in their inbound volume to the U.S.

In November, total Americans traveling abroad reached 6.7 million, up 41 percent year over year and represents 92 percent of pre-pandemic November 2019. From January to November 2022, American trips abroad totaled 73 million, up 69 percent year over year. Americans traveling abroad spent more than $15.2 billion in November, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

Europe continues to be a strong destination for American travelers. The number of American trips to Europe in November rose 89 percent year over year. Europe received over 14.6 million visitors throughout the first eleven months of 2022, making it the second largest market for outbound U.S. travel in that period. 

Tourism

U.S. Visa Delays Sees Some Reduction

11 months ago

Global average wait times for U.S. visitor visas dropped below 150 days in January for the first time since 2021, according to the U.S. Travel Association. They still, however, remain higher than 400 days for India, Brazil, Mexico and top inbound visa-requiring markets (excluding China).

In 2022, aspiring tourists from the top ten inbound countries outside the U.S. Visa Waiver Program couldn’t travel to the U.S. because they had to hundreds of days to get a visitor visa (B-1 and B-2) interview at their local U.S. embassy. The primary reason was inadequate processing staff amid released pent-up demand. The delays could cost the travel industry an estimated $12 billion in 2023 and cause international travel not to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2025, according to the U.S. Travel.

The recent wait time reductions have been due to the State Department’s new processing initiatives. The department’s “Super Saturdays” initiative has had embassies and consulates remain open on Saturdays to process visas. This past Saturday, for example, the consulate at Monterrey, Mexico, cut interview wait times from 545 days in mid-December to (still high) 407 days. The administration’s wavering of interview requirements for low-risk renewals of visitor visa and other categories have also helped.

Visa wait times remain absurdly high for many international tourists. In Mumbai, India, for example, wait times fell from 999 days in mid-December to 623 days—that’s more than a year and a half.

The State Department expects interview wait times will fall to under 120 days and its embassies and consulates will be fully staffed by the end of the 2023 fiscal year, according to U.S. Travel. The speed of visa wait times reductions will vary by country due local travel demand and hiring pace, according to Peter van Berkel, chairman of the International Inbound Travel Association and president of Travalco, a tour operator. 

Under 120 days is still high and underscores the Skift 2023 megatrend that the U.S. travel industry will have to continue to contend with the loss of many international travelers.

Working with the State Department to resolve the visitor visa delay issue will be the top priority for the person that fills the newly-created assistant secretary of travel and tourism position

Tourism

Spending by International Visitors to U.S. Rises 57 Percent to $16 Billion 

11 months ago

International visitors spent $15.9 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the U.S. in November, up 57 percent year over year, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.  That’s an improvement from November 2021, but it’s billions of dollars down from international visitor spending in pre-pandemic November 2019, which had $20 billion.

From January to November, international visitors to the U.S. spent more than $146 billion, up more than 103 year over year and translating into an average of over $437 million per day going into the U.S. economy.

The U.S. ended up with a travel surplus in November. Americans traveling abroad spent more than $15.2 billion in November, yielding a trade balance of $703 million. The U.S. also had a travel trade surplus in October.

International visitor purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services, which includes entertainment, food and recreation, totaled $8.6 billion in November 2022, up 77 percent compared to the previous year. That’s below the total in November 2019, when international visitor purchases amounted to $11.7 billion.

Tourism

International Travelers to U.S. Spent $16 Billion in October, a New Recent High

12 months ago

International inbound visitors spent more than $15.8 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in October, making it the highest monthly level of spending since Covid struck in February 2020, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. 

Year to date international travel spending has accumulated to $129.9 billion, up more than 110 percent year over year. That translated into $427 million spending per day for the U.S. economy.

International travelers spent a total of $8.8 billion on lodging, recreation and other travel and tourism-related goods and services in October, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. International travel spending for that month was down nearly $3 billion compared to October 2019, which had $11.7 billion.

The U.S. also came out with a trade surplus in October. Americans traveling abroad spent around $15.8 billion, giving the U.S. a slight trade plus of $58 million for October. In September, the U.S. had a trade deficit of more than $1 billion. 

One likely reason why the surplus was so small has been the ongoing delay to process first-time visitor visa applications at American embassies in multiple countries outside the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The U.S. Travel Association estimates the average wait time for first-time visa applicants from key U.S. markets has exploded to 400 days.

Tourism

International Inbound Travel to U.S. Still Just 2/3 What It Was Pre-Pandemic

1 year ago

Around 4.3 million international visitors came to the United States in May, amounting to 64 percent of its May pre-pandemic volume, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. This volume was reported for May, the last month before the U.S. lifted its testing Covid requirement for inbound international travelers.

Canada (1.3 million), Mexico (1 million), UK (327,000), India (149,000) and Germany (130,000) were the U.S.’s top source markets in May. These source markets accounted for 67.2 percent of total international arrivals. 

Times Square
Times Square. Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/k4nVp1I84Dc

The top 20 source markets in May 2022 saw a change in their makeup compared to pre-pandemic May 2019.  Chile, the Dominican Republic and Peru placed in the top 20, while China, Taiwan and Switzerland did not.

Outbound international travel totaled 6.9 million, up 87 percent from May 2021 and amounting to 80 percent of its May pre-pandemic volume. Mexico was the top travel destination for U.S. citizens with 2.7 million visits. Combined year-to-date, over 60 percent of departures were for Mexico and the Caribbean, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

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