Days after the US reopened its land and air borders to vaccinated international visitors on November 8, US Travel Association (USTA) released its biannual forecast that shows an uneven recovery for the international inbound and business travel segments, signaling a bumpy few years ahead. Domestic leisure travel, on the other hand, has returned to near pre-pandemic levels.
USTA's forecast, based on analysis from Tourism Economics, projects that domestic leisure travel will continue to drive the US travel industry’s recovery in the near term. This segment is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and beyond.
Domestic business travel spending is expected to reach 76 percent of 2019 levels in 2022 while the segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024.
International inbound travel spending is forecasted to reach 72 percent of 2019 levels in 2022. The segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024 or 2025.
“While we see reason for optimism on the horizon, our forecast reveals that travel’s recovery is uneven with much work ahead to ensure all segments reach pre-pandemic levels,” said USTA President & CEO Roger Dow. “We believe that the US can implement smart, effective policies that bring back international visitors more quickly and spur business and professional travel to accelerate an economic and jobs rebound.”
USTA has advocated for some policies to accelerate the travel industry’s recovery, including:
- Fully reopening and resuming visitor visa processing at US embassies and consulates
- Ensuring Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration officers are adequately resourced
- Passing the Restoring Brand USA Act to provide emergency relief funding to Brand USA, the United States’ destination marketing organization
- Enacting temporary tax credits to restore demand for in-person professional meetings and events
“Stabilizing policies can help ensure a more even recovery as we aim to restore the US as the top destination in the world for global travelers,” added Dow.
Visit ustravel.org for more information.