Despite many saying that visitors to the US weren’t expected to change following the election of President Donald Trump, new research tells a very different story.
According to an article from Skift, the U.S. Travel Association on Tuesday revised its earlier optimistic predictions that tourism wouldn’t suffer despite all the travel bans and ‘anti-welcome’ initiatives.
The Association has now re-assessed and suggested a “substantially more pessimistic assessment” of travel to the US, warning of “major storm clouds for the inbound international travel market”.
Using figures calculated by Oxford Economics last year, the organisation released a Travel Trends Index, to show future projections of travel demand. During 2017, as Skift reports, the US saw strength in both international and domestic travel into America, something many experts did not expect.
The new report now shows that for four of the first seven months of 2017, international tourism actually weakened, down almost seven per cent in February, 8.2 per cent in March – the two lowest dips.
The revised index incorporates fresh data from the International Air Transport Association, air travel intelligence company OAG, Sabre, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, according to Skift.
In a statement to Skift, David Huether, US Travel’s Senior Vice President of Research, said they were surprised when figures from the initial reports didn’t show decreases.
“We kept projecting drops in international visitation, and they kept not materializing,” he told Skift.
“However, we recently were able to access new data inputs for the TTI to give us an even more comprehensive picture, and sure enough, the international travel segment has been far weaker than what was initially shown.”
Per the report, domestic business travel saw a drop in July after rising in May and June, but an uptick over the coming months is expected.
The report remains positive though, with the association still expecting total travel volume in the US to grow, but only by 1.2 per cent by January 2018. Domestic travel is only a fraction higher in terms of growth speculation.
Including Canada and Mexico international inbound tourism, the US’s total travel fell by over four per cent for the year to March 2017. Excluding that, overseas travel dropped by 7.8 per cent in total, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
In his proposed budget, Trump had slated the national tourism body, Brand USA, to get the chop, however the U.S. Travel Association’s President and CEO Roger Dow urged him to reconsider.
Per Skift, Adam Sacks, President of Oxford Economics’ Tourism Economics group, added, “The President’s continued rhetoric and policies weigh heavily on the international inbound market outlook”.
Earlier this year, Visit USA President Kylee Kay told TW while they had anticipated “backlash” over the various political movements of late, interest in travelling to the US was actually on the rise.
“We definitely expected [interest in the US] to suffer backlash with the political movements of late, but we found there was a lot more talk than action,” Kay told us.
“The fact it’s so bizarre gives people more reason to talk about it, and the reasons to engage with the US is higher than usual.”
Kay also said a slight drop in overall travel to America couldn’t be instantly blamed on Trump, because some years people might just prefer a different destination for their holiday, or a trip to the US is more convenient at another time.
“What’s worse than being talked about? Not being talked about,” she added.