Aug 2, 2019

U.S. tourism is on the ropes

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
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Data: U.S. Travel Association; Chart: Axios Visuals

International visitors are cutting back on trips to the U.S. and spending less money in the country when they do come, data show, as the strength of the dollar has risen, making U.S. goods more expensive.

What it means: Data from the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) show a steep and steady decline in the U.S. share of international travel, which is set to continue until at least 2022.

  • Other factors contributing to the decline of international tourism and spending include ongoing trade tensions, which materially dampen the demand for travel, and stiff competition from rival countries, USTA says.
  • Worsening matters, the U.S.-China trade war has reduced appetite for American goods and experiences, further weakening international tourism revenue.

The big picture: The U.S. share of the global travel market has been falling for 4 straight years since touching a high of 13.7% in 2015. The nation's share of international tourism earnings fell to 11.7% in 2018.

Why it matters: That decline in market share represents losses to the U.S. economy of 14 million international visitors, $59 billion in international traveler spending and 120,000 U.S. jobs, USTA's data show.

  • "Everyone is wondering how much longer the U.S. economic expansion can go on, and shoring up our international travel market share would be a great way to help it continue," said Tori Barnes, USTA's executive vice president of public affairs and policy, in a statement.

What's next? If the environment continues as expected through 2022, it would mean a further loss of 41 million visitors, $180 billion in exports and 266,000 jobs, USTA says.

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