Travel to and within the U.S. grew 3.2% year-over-year in February, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI).
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However, the predictive Leading Travel Index (LTI) continues to project a slowdown in both international and domestic travel growth, as both segments could continue to feel the effects of rising trade tensions, volatile financial markets and weakening business and consumer confidence. These factors have the potential to stunt travel growth and dull American competitiveness at a time when the U.S. is seeking to reverse its declining share of the global international travel market.
Though international inbound travel grew for the ninth consecutive month, the segment grew only 1.4% in February. Domestic travel increased 2.8% year-over-year in February, with growth in both the business and leisure travel segments. Domestic business travel outpaced the leisure segment for the first time since October 2018, registering slightly above its six-month moving average with a 3.0% growth. Leisure growth fell slightly below its six-month moving average with a more tepid 2.6% growth rate.
Looking ahead, domestic and international inbound travel are both projected to grow, but at a moderate pace.
Said U.S. Travel Senior Vice President for Research David Huether: “Growth is expected to decelerate in the case of domestic travel while international inbound travel is projected to remain soft. This is consistent with an expectation of stable-yet-moderating economic growth both in the U.S. and globally.”
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U.S. Travel economists caution that this decelerated growth rate will make it even more difficult for the U.S. to regain its diminishing share of the global international travel market. Acting on certain legislative initiatives—such as Brand USA’s long-term reauthorization and the rebranding and expansion of the Visa Waiver Program—can help the U.S. increase competitiveness in the global travel market.
The TTI is prepared for U.S. Travel by the research firm Oxford Economics. The TTI is based on public and private sector source data which are subject to revision by the source agency. The TTI draws from: advance search and bookings data from ADARA and nSight; airline bookings data from the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC); IATA, OAG and other tabulations of international inbound travel to the U.S.; and hotel room demand data from STR.
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