Once again, there is more evidence that the international inbound travel industry in the United States finds itself working hard just to stay in place. In the latest monthly report based on its Travel Trend Index (TTI) and Leading Travel Index (LTI), the U.S. Travel Association tells us that international inbound travel contracted once again in July, falling by 1.2 percent. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) latest monthly figures covering travel from overseas—total international arrivals to the USA, which include traffic from Mexico and Canada, take a little longer to configure because NTTO uses a different methodology—showed zero movement in July and +1.2 percent year-to-date for the first seven months of 2019. (Keep in mind that an anticipated decline in Canadian traffic is likely to push the +1.2 percent closer to the zero mark.)
The decline follows a disappointing June performance which saw the sector’s six-month trend fall below zero for the first time since September 2015. The Leading Travel Index (LTI), the predictive component of the TTI, projects international inbound travel growth will remain negative over the next six months (declining by 0.4 percent).
China is Down: While the NTTO figures show a consistent, if surprising, increase in visitation from the UK and Japan, arrivals from China were down through July, with year-to-date arrivals (vs. 2018) down 3.7 percent. For the rest of the Top 15 Overseas Source Markets, year-to-date figures contain no surprises, even if the drop-off in traffic from Argentina is substantial, as the country’s economy is falling into what could be a deep recession.