Mar 4, 2020 - Economy

Coronavirus to deliver largest decline in international travel to U.S. since financial crisis

People John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on March 03, 2020

People wearing masks talk in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Photo: Eduardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Foreign travel to the U.S. is slated to tumble over the next six months, according to the latest data from the U.S. Travel Association.

What's happening: The USTA's three-month Leading Travel Index (LTI) projects international inbound travel will fall by 6% year-over-year, "as the coronavirus outbreak continues to roil the global economy," the agency said in a release Tuesday.

  • "The latest Travel Trends Index (TTI) captures data from January, when awareness of coronavirus began to ramp up and China — one of the biggest travel markets to the U.S. — implemented aggressive measures to curb travel out of certain cities."

Why it matters: The predicted drop of 6% over the three-month period is the sharpest in the five-year history of the TTI, and would be the largest decline in international inbound travel since the 2007–2008 financial crisis.

Be smart: “There is a lot of uncertainty around coronavirus, and it is pretty clear that it is having an effect on travel demand — not just from China, and not just internationally, but for domestic business and leisure travel as well," USTA president and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement.

  • However, he adds that "it’s important to keep in mind that the restrictions and warnings are highly specific to countries where there have been pronounced outbreaks. Right now there is absolutely no official guidance that people need to be reconsidering travel in the U.S.”

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