“I’ve been down so long that bottom looks like up to me,” one variation of an old saying tells us, and it’s an apt—if not statistically precise—assessment of the July 2020 monthly posting from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) of overseas arrivals to the United States.
There has been no appreciable arrivals number from just about any source market since the first quarter of the year—a reality that could change modestly with the next monthly report for August, during which there have been some easing of restrictions on long-haul travel worldwide. Also, airline lift capacity has increased just enough through favored travel “bubbles” and on some well-established routes that it has crept back up to about half of what it would have been this summer were it not for the damage to the travel and tourism industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked more damage to the global tourism economy than anything else in the post-World War II era of international air travel.
(Editor’s note: the comparisons reflected in the tables below are not a mistake. The wash of red print merely illustrates in graphic terms just how bad it has been. Perhaps the numbers for August will show that we have finally bottomed out and that a recovery is on its way.)
Notes on the July 2020 Numbers: Helping INBOUND take a more thorough look at the overseas arrival data just released by NTTO was the widely-know industry analyst Ron Erdmann, now senior research associate at CIC Research, Inc. Erdmann career has included a tenure of more than 30 years at the U.S. Department of Commerce, including 20-plus years as deputy director for research at NTTO. Following are some of the points he noted:
—The dramatic shifts in overseas visitation to the USA in 2020 can be neatly summed up by looking at the top countries generating visitors to the USA in July at: 2020 Quick Release – Country of Residence (COR) compared to top 15 arrivals markets year-to-date.
—Seeing the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, India, Ecuador and Haiti as the top arrival markets in July 2020 seems odd when year-to-date arrivals from the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, China and France are more the traditional look you would have seen over the years. But, 2020 is not a normal year. July marks the fourth straight month of declines of 97 percent or more in arrivals to the country.
—How long will these declines stay this way? Well keep coming back each month to the NTTO website and you will be able to see the top 15 arrivals in the 2020 Quick Release – Country of Residence (COR) tables.
—For those who want more information, the NTTO also posts data on the top 50-plus arrival markets each month at: Arrivals Data – Country of Residence (COR).
—Since NTTO relies upon both Canada and Mexico for the arrival figures from these respective countries, there is always a delay in getting the total arrivals for these two markets. But, as NTTO obtains them from their respective governments, they add them to the totals.
—When looking at the January to July 2020 year-to-date arrival figures the 72 percent decline is staggering. To put it in numbers: overseas arrivals January to July 2019 totaled 22.9 million visitors. In 2020, overseas arrivals for the first seven months totaled 6.3 million. But the rates of decline are not all the same.
—The steepest decline for the first seven months in the countries reports was from the Philippines down almost 80 percent when compared to 2019. The country with the least decline to date was Costa Rica down nearly 64%. In between there are 50 other rates of change. As the year continues, these declines will most likely show a different set of top markets for 2020 when compared to 2019. How much different? Keep watching the NTTO monthly website site. The August 2020 arrivals data should be released around September 25th. Go to the following link on the NTTO website to keep current: 2011 – 2020 .