Tourism Economics Forecasts U.S. Travel Spending to Fall 45 Percent in 2020

Airport check in counter with no people.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Total travel spending in the United States is predicted to drop 45 percent by the end of this year, according to a forecast prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics. Domestic travel spending is forecast to drop 40 percent—from $972 billion in 2019 to $583 billion this year—while international inbound spending is expected to fall 75 percent—from $155 billion last year to $39 billion in 2020.

Total domestic trips taken by U.S. residents are expected to fall 30 percent from last year to 1.6 billion—the lowest figure since 1991, another recession year.

The forecast numbers arrive as U.S. Travel commences its first-ever “Virtual Hill Week,” connecting members of the industry with lawmakers to discuss travel priorities and needs. Nearly 300 industry members will participate in 75 online meetings with lawmakers in both the U.S. House and Senate.

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“The data is telling us that travel and tourism has been more severely damaged than any other U.S. industry by the economic fallout of the health crisis,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Association EVP for public affairs and policy. “Given that travel employed one in 10 Americans and was the number-two U.S. export before the pandemic, supporting this industry through to the recovery phase ought to be a national priority. Our asks for lawmakers are substantial, but they’re also simple: we need relief, protection, and stimulus for the travel industry to make it past the worst of the crisis and help power an economic recovery.”

Among the policy priorities members of the travel industry will discuss in Congress this week are extending Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to destination marketing organizations (DMOs); tax incentives, including a temporary travel tax credit and tax credits for personal protective equipment (PPE) and facilities sterilization; protection from COVID-related lawsuits for businesses that follow health and safety guidelines; and a federal backstop for the issuance of pandemic risk insurance to give businesses financial cover from future outbreaks or another wave of infections.

 


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