US Travel: Gloomy international projections overshadow domestic travel gains

Travel to and within the U.S. grew 3.2 percent year-over-year in October, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI)—marking the industry’s 106th straight month of overall expansion.

However, according to the Leading Travel Index (LTI), there is continued cause for concern looking ahead to the new year.

International inbound travel expanded 2.4 percent year-over-year in October. But that growth was at a slower rate than the previous month, and the LTI projects that international inbound travel will continue to decelerate through April 2019.

“A worrying trend of deceleration has taken root in the second half of the year,” said U.S. Travel Senior Vice President for Research David Huether. “Weakening global economic conditions, combined with rising trade tensions and a strengthening dollar, will continue to spell trouble for the international segment.”

U.S. Travel economists caution that softening growth in the international inbound market will hinder the U.S. in its efforts to recapture its share of the global international travel market.

The news on the domestic side is sunnier, as both business and leisure travel picked up in October. Vacation intentions buoyed by historically high levels of consumer confidence supported leisure travel gains. Domestic business travel rebounded considerably after a sluggish September, registering 51.9 on the October Current Travel Index (CTI).

Domestic travel overall is projected to grow 2.4 percent year-over-year through April 2019, with business travel leading the way. Still, heightened market volatility and rising trade tensions could temper business investment and constrain what is expected to be the fastest-growing travel segment.

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.