Surprise, the Exchange Rate Didn’t Really Hurt Arrivals: If the data hold up in the way that they are appearing in preliminary counts, 2015 was a good year for international travel to the USA, the strong U.S. dollar notwithstanding. Despite all the speculation on the part of those work the Eurozone markets, the slump in the exchange rate of the euro vs. the dollar did not seem not to have affected arrivals from the U.S. from Europe and especially Germany—or from other key overseas markets, for that matter. The last half year for which data are available (January-June 2015) from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) show that overseas arrivals had increased 8.7 percent. Preliminary numbers for the full year, sources have told us, suggest that the full year result for 2015 will likely show that the increase will be similar.
If the suggestion holds, it will confirm what U.S.-based receptive operators who specialize in the German market told the Inbound Report even as European travel trade journals wrote of the dire consequences of the continued strength of the dollar vs. euro that it did not matter that much because U.S. is largely perceived as a long-haul luxury destination, and one makes a decision to travel to the U.S. well in advance—economic factors notwithstanding. Such a decision is not easily undone.
(For your information, the dollar is at about the same level against the euro as it was a year ago. See: http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=EUR&to=USD&view=1Y.)
The news comes after more than a year’s worth of delay and episodic generation of arrivals data due to the information collection problems of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the way in which the agency delivers it to NTTO, is hoping that it will be able to deliver a new long-range international arrivals forecast by this coming October. The Fall/October forecast provides year-to-date arrivals for the current year, as well as a long-term, five-year outlook for key international source markets.
In prior years, the Fall Forecast used to be tied to the timing of the U.S. Travel Association’s Marketing Outlook Forum each October. US Travel offloaded the brand to the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) several years ago. This year’s TTRA Marketing Outlook Forum takes place October 24-26 at the West Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale. The NTTO Spring Forecast, which would update the Fall Forecast, has been a feature of the agency’s press conference at IPW.
Back in the days when thousands of trees were killed each year to provide the paper for all of the hard-copy press kits and reports made available for the news media that covered IPW, the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (predecessor of NTTO) or its predecessor, the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration (USTTA) used reams to provide the thick compendium of different analyses, outlooks and country market reports made available to journalists who used the information to file annual or semi-annual feature stories based on its data.
So sought after was the material that some journalists reported thefts of the USTTA/OTTI press kits from their cubby hole mail boxes in the IPW press room. The news conference at which the kits were distributed used to be the most widely attended new conference on the IPW schedule. This year, in the wake of the collection and distribution problems, there is no press conference even scheduled.