US travel remains on solid footing, but international momentum could slow 

US travel trends remain solid, but research from the US Travel Association believes there are underlying signs of caution in the latest growth patterns.


Summary:

  • The US Travel Association has warned there are underlying signs of caution in its latest growth patterns despite US travel trends remaining solid;
  • The association calculated travel to and within the US grew +1.6% year-on-year in Sep-2018,  which was the 105th consecutive month of expansion;
  • In the domestic US market it says business travel has the potential to surpass the leisure market during the next six months;
  • But it warns trade tensions and a cooling global economy are risks for inbound international travel growth to the US through to the beginning of 2019.

The association calculated travel to and within the US grew +1.6% year-on-year in Sep-2018,  which was the 105th consecutive month of expansion. Domestic leisure travel increased +1.8% year-on-year in Sep-2018 while the business segment plateaued.

International inbound travel grew +4.4% year-on-year in Sep-2018. However, the association explained that “with inbound having posted a sharp 2.2 percent drop in September of 2017, any year-over-year improvement at all is liable to appear overinflated”.

Going forward, the US Travel Association expects domestic travel to grow +2% year-on-year through Mar-2019, and despite the weakness in Sep-2018, business travel has the potential to surpass the leisure market during the next six months, driven by still-solid business investments, the association stated.

CHART – Three month and six month leading travel indicators (LTI) show marked declines in international travel to the USSource: US Travel Association

The uptick in international travel is not expected to last through the beginning of 2019, the association concluded, citing trade tensions and a cooling global economy as risks for inbound international travel growth to the US. Three month and six month leading travel indicators (LTI) show marked declines in international travel to the US.

“We’re seeing something of a perfect storm of factors that could suppress international demand for travel to the US,” said US Travel Association’s senior vice president for research David Huether. “The US dollar has been on another very robust strengthening trend since April of this year, while the global economy has been cooling off considerably overall. That, coupled with political uncertainty in Europe and rising trade tensions, is a bad-news recipe for inbound travel.”