WASHINGTON—Travel to and within the U.S. grew 3.2 percent year-over-year in May, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI)—marking the industry’s 113th straight month of overall expansion. While this is up slightly from April’s 3 percent overall growth, the Leading Travel Index (LTI) predicts domestic and international travel growth will soften through November 2019 as all travel segments experience slower growth.
International travel grew by 1.2 percent in May, following three months of wide fluctuations due to the timing of Easter, which has historically been a peak travel time for visitors to the United States. Over the next six months, the LTI predicts international travel growth will slow to just 0.4 percent.
“Headwinds like the strong dollar and lingering trade tensions indicate sluggish growth for international inbound travel, but the much-needed work of the Brand USA destination marketing organization has prevented a further constriction,” said David Huether, U.S. Travel senior vice president for research. “Political leaders would be wise to act on policies that can help us thrive in spite of these challenging circumstances, such as Brand USA’s long-term reauthorization and the expansion of the Visa Waiver Program.”
The outlook is brighter on the domestic travel side—domestic travel demand increased 3.6 percent in May, buoyed by growth in both business and leisure travel. However, weakening consumer spending and business investment is projected to hamstring domestic travel growth over the next six months. The LTI predicts domestic travel growth will expand 2 percent through November, with leisure travel outpacing business travel growth. Vacation intentions from January through April 2019 registered above 2018 levels over the same period, and forward-looking bookings and searches support predictions of continued, albeit moderate, growth.
“Domestic leisure travel has been a source of solid demand for the travel industry over the past several years,” said Huether. “This has been especially important given the impediments to international inbound travel growth.”
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.