Travel in the United States is expected to continue to grow in 2013 according to a recent forecast released by the U.S. Travel Association, but the rate of growth is projected to slow down compared to previous years.
“For 2013, the number of trips taken by Americans is expected to increase to a new record high,” says David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics for the U.S. Travel Association. “But the growth we expect next year is going to be at a slower pace than over the past few years.”
The total number of trips in 2012 is expected to rise by approximately two percent or 36 million, to reach a total of 2.04 billion trips. In 2013, the number of trips is expected to grow by about 1.1 percent, adding an additional 23 million trips.
According to Huether, the leisure market accounts for a good deal of the continued positive trend. In 2013, domestic leisure travel will increase 1.2 percent. This puts leisure travel up 4.5 percent from where it was in 2007.
Business travel is going to see a slightly larger dip with a growth rate of less than one percent. However, business trips have been increasing steadily since 2009, and Huether believes business travel will accelerate again in 2014.
“Some of the decrease has to do with a low-level of confidence and slow-down in business activity,” he says. “But I think it’s important to note that 2012 showed the third consecutive annual increase in business trips. We feel the slight increase in business travel next year continues to reflect demand for face-to-face meetings that drive growth and productivity.”
The forecast for next year also shows an increase in international spending, demonstrating that that international market is a key factor in revitalizing the U.S. economy.
“There is going to be some slow down in international spending, but it’s still going to grow in excess of seven percent next year,” says Huether. “In 2013, we expect international spending to account for an excess of 15 percent of travel spending in the United States. If we look a little further out into 2014, we expect it to be 15.5 percent. International spending is becoming more and more important and it’s going to help the industry weather some of the slow down we expect to see going forward.”
Huether says that some of the association’s predictions for inbound travel to the United States are based on the assumption that the European economies are going to pick up some steam in 2013. On average, international travelers spend $4,300 per trip, and that type of spending helps the industry create jobs. Huether says that the biggest influx of international travel will come from countries in Latin America and Asia. He also states that countries that are accepted into the visa waiver program tend to have a significant impact on the travel economy with a surge in international visitors from those countries. Taiwan’s acceptance into the program on November 1 is expected to make an impact on the international figures for 2013.
The travel industry will also continue to be a major source of U.S. employment and is expected to add 98,000 American jobs by the end of 2013, and increase the number of people employed by the travel industry to 7.6 million.
“The focus of this election season has been how to put Americans back to work, and our industry is uniquely capable of adapting to economic upswings and creating jobs,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Given our industry’s immense potential not only nationally, but also for local and state economies, we call on the administration and members of Congress to build a plan for economic recovery that drives significant increases in travel.”