Days after the U.S. reopened its land and air borders to vaccinated international visitors, U.S. Travel Association (USTA) released its biannual forecast, which shows an uneven recovery for the international inbound and business travel segments, while domestic leisure travel has returned to near pre-pandemic levels.
The forecast, based on analysis from Tourism Economics, projects that spending on domestic leisure travel will continue to drive the U.S. travel industry’s recovery in the near term. This segment is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and beyond.
Domestic business travel spending is expected to reach 76 percent of 2019 levels in 2022 while the segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024.
International inbound travel spending is forecast to reach 72 percent of 2019 levels in 2022. The segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024 or 2025.
“While we see much reason for optimism on the horizon, our forecast reveals that travel’s recovery is uneven with much work ahead to ensure all segments reach pre-pandemic levels,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “We believe that the U.S. can implement smart, effective policies that bring back international visitors more quickly and spur business and professional travel to accelerate an economic and jobs rebound.”
U.S. Travel is advocating for several actions to help spur recovery. The group is calling for the full reopening and resumption of visitor visa processing and U.S. embassies and consulates, and for the Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration to be adequately resourced with front-line workers. The trade group is also asking for emergency relief funding for Brand USA, the country’s destination marketing organization, and is asking lawmakers to enact temporary tax credits to restore demand for in-person professional meetings and events.