U.S. TRAVEL CONTINUED to grow in January despite the pinch put on air travel by the federal government shutdown, according to U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index. Still, worries persist that weakening global economic growth, trade tensions and dwindling consumer and business confidence may soon cause a slowdown.
Travel to and within the U.S. increased 3.2 percent in January over the previous year, according to the TTI, marking the 109th consecutive month of growth. However, that is down from the 3.6 percent growth seen in December.
International inbound travel grew 3.2 percent surpassing its six-month moving average of 2.8 percent. Domestic leisure travel grew 3.4 percent while business travel rose 2.8 percent, continuing a narrowing of the margin between domestic leisure and domestic business travel over recent months.
The next six months may be less positive for the U.S. travel industry, according to USTA. A slowing growth rate could take a toll on the nation’s efforts to regain what it has lost in the international travel market.
Business travel is expected to increase only 1.6 percent through July, and leisure travel will grow at a rate of 2 percent due to lowering business and consumer confidence. The cooling global economy and a higher U.S. dollar is expected to impact international inbound travel, which is expected to grow at a decelerated 2.2 percent.
“As indicators of global growth and trade activity begin to cool, so too will international inbound travel,” said USTA Senior Vice President for Research David Huether. “Certain legislative initiatives—namely Brand USA’s long-term reauthorization and the inclusion of more qualified countries in the Visa Waiver Program—can improve U.S. competitiveness in the global international travel market.”