Travel to and within the United States grew 2.4% year over year in December, marking the industry’s 10th consecutive year of expansion, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI).
The Leading Travel Index (LTI), the predictive component of the TTI, projects overall U.S. travel volume will grow 1.4% year over year through June 2020.
However, international inbound travel is expected to contract (-0.2%) over that same time period as a result of the continued strength of the U.S. dollar versus other key currencies and trade tensions. International inbound travel did expand slightly in December (0.8%)—only the second increase for the segment in the past seven months.
“Congress took an important step in December to reverse the slide in international inbound travel by reauthorizing the Brand USA destination marketing program,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “International visitor spending is vital to lowering the trade deficit, and a prolonged slide in that segment’s growth could have serious implications for the overall health of the American economy.”
Domestic travel was once again the bright spot of the TTI as December concluded the third consecutive year of simultaneous expansions in both the domestic leisure and domestic business travel segments. Domestic travel demand rose 2.6% in December, fueled by increases in domestic leisure travel growth (2.8%) and business travel growth (2.0%). Business travel surged beyond its six-month average, largely due to Hanukkah falling on the same week as Christmas this year, while leisure travel growth slowed to half of its six-month trend. The LTI projects that overall domestic travel growth will expand 1.4% year-over-year through June 2020.
Next month’s TTI—which will reflect travel data for January—should also begin to capture the probable effects of Chinese coronavirus on travel to and within the U.S.