If the percentage decline, year-over-year, in the number of visitors coming to the United States from Canada continues at the rate struck for the first quarter of 2016 obtains for the rest of the year, the market will have shrunk by more than 5 million visitors over two years. This is just one of the findings revealed in the 2016 first quarter arrivals report recently released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO).
Other findings that stick in the observer’s eye include a Q1 snapshot that confirms a falloff of close to 25 percent in arrivals from Brazil, as well as small, single-digit declines in some key European markets—declines that were not unexpected, according to a number of industry observers.
First, the tables containing data on top overseas sources markets, as well as Canada and Mexico.
Some Q1 After-Thoughts:
—Due almost entirely to a week Canadian dollar vs. the U.S. dollar, Canadian visits to the USA totaled 20.7 million in 2015—down 10 percent from 23 million in 2014. A year-long rate of decrease of 13.4 percent, as it was for the first quarter of 2016, would mean a further reduction of 2.77 million—a down to 17.9 million. In addition to wreaking havoc on those U.S. travel suppliers and destinations that court Canadian travelers, a loss of 5 million visitors hurts the goal of Brand USA of reaching 100 million annual international visitors to the U.S. by 2021.
—As for Brazil, there is little in the data to cheer the country’s travel trade or U.S. receptive operators who sell Visit USA product to Brazil. The attitude seems best expressed in a popular Lee Hazelwood song from the 1960s: “I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me.” The nation’s economy fell into a recession in the third quarter of 2014 and is about to enter its third year. One report has suggested the current recession will be the worst the nation has experienced since 1901.
Add to the economic data the soap opera that Brazil’s political scene has become, and it is small wonder that Q1 arrivals fell by 24.4 percent vs. Q1 2015. On the bright side, several business news publications have recently published commentaries that see the dark clouds lifting on the Brazilian horizon and consumer confidence in the country increased in August—the fifth consecutive month in which this measure has done so.
—It is possible that the small percentage point declines for Germany and France were related to several terrorist attacks in Western Europe and in Turkey that stoked a fear of travel among Germans. What data that have been made available for travel bookings for the subsequent second and third quarters of 2016 suggest that activity has been, at best, flat.