Domestic and inbound travel rose 3.2 percent year-over-year in July, according to the latest Travel Trends Index from the U.S. Travel Association. Ongoing trade tensions, stiff competition for tourism and the strength of the U.S. dollar have resulted in a stagnation in international inbound travel. This, coupled with softer domestic travel growth, is expected to result in moderate overall travel growth through January 2020.
International inbound travel fell 1.2 percent in July. This marks its fourth month on the decline in 2019 and follows a particularly poor performance in June, during which the six-month trend fell below zero for the first time since September 2015.
According to the Leading Travel Index, international inbound travel growth is expected to remain negative over the next six months. Domestic travel, however, is on the rise and increased 3.8 percent in July.
"The solid performance of the domestic leisure and business segments –– which together account for 86 percent of the travel economy in the U.S. –– have kept the travel expansion on track through the first seven months of 2019 and have acted as a bulwark against the stagnant state of international inbound travel," said David Huether, U.S. Travel's senior vice president of research.
Domestic leisure travel grew 4.2 percent, surpassing its six-month average. Meanwhile, domestic business travel went from a 0.2 percent decline in June to 2.2 percent growth in July.
To combat the decline of international inbound travel, U.S. Travel continues to recommend a number of policy changes, including expanding the Visa Waiver Program, improving customs wait times and reauthorizing Brand USA, the organization tasked with promoting the United States as a premier international travel destination. A bipartisan senate bill to do just that currently is awaiting action.
"With Congress returning to work next week, Brand USA's long-term reauthorization must be a top priority," said Huether. "Brand USA's efforts to promote America to visitors abroad have keptthe decline in international inbound visitation from being worse, and it is crucial that Congress works quickly to pass legislation to reauthorize the program and ensure the continued promotion of the U.S. in the competitive global travel market."