US strongest Travel & Tourism country in 2016, but the future looks less certain
The US business and leisure travel sector continues to rank number one in the world, with the country representing 20% of the world’s Travel & Tourism GDP contribution. However a drop in inbound travel because of the strength of the dollar and anti-foreign sentiment are expected to dampen growth figures, a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) suggests.
|Click on the image to enlarge|
Travel & Tourism contributed US$1.5 trillion, or 8.1%, to the country’s GDP in 2016 and supported over 14 million jobs, which is 9.4% of total employment. For 2017, growth is expected to be 2.3%, slower than the rate of 2.8% seen in 2016.
According to the report, the contribution of Travel & Tourism to the USA’s GDP will predominantly be stimulated by strong outbound expenditure, which is expected to grow by 5.4% in 2017. As the dollar strength is expected to persist, US based travel companies and tour operators selling outbound holidays will benefit from travel abroad becoming cheaper for US citizens. The most likely beneficiaries of this strong growth are expected to be Canada and Mexico, as well as the Caribbean and Mediterranean destinations.
Visitor exports, which is money spent by foreign visitors in a country, is expected to fall by 0.6%, primarily because continued dollar strength will make the US less attractive from a pricing perspective. There are indications in flight search data that sentiment towards the US has suffered significantly in recent weeks, as a consequence of the Trump Administration’s controversial attempted travel ban on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries.
David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, said: “The US is a beautiful and strong tourism destination. It currently ranks number one in the world in terms of the sector’s contribution to GDP, twice the size of the nearest competitor, China. Stimulated by the marketing approach of Brand USA established in 2011 and the visa facilitation efforts undertaken, international arrivals have shown very strong growth over the last few years.
For the US to continue on this growth path, it is important to address the current forecast drop in inbound travel, and to reverse the negative perceptions created by the proposed travel ban. Afterall 9.4% of American jobs depend on Travel & Tourism”
Scowsill continued: “We urge the Administration to recognise the importance of our sector, both to the economy and to American jobs. We look for support in these five areas:
- Continue to be open for business, which means no discrimination amongst those that want to visit the country for business and leisure purposes
- Invest in marketing to support Brand USA, promoting the diversity of the US to the global travelling public
- Implement investment in infrastructure, including roads, airports, accommodation and attractions
- Maintain open skies, as competition amongst airlines means more choice and better air fares for consumers”