No one whose business depends on a healthy, robust flow of overseas visitors to the USA from overseas will be cheered by what the data tell us regarding the first month of 2021. The numbers for arrivals from such visitors to the United States are down versus the first month of last year, as well as the first month of 2019. In a year-on-year basis, there is little likelihood that overseas arrivals will come close to a monthly total that is equivalent to, or possibly exceeds, that of 2019, INBOUND believes, until the data for April are made available.
On the latter point above, there is something to cheer about. For, in the past year, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) has published and released monthly international arrivals data on or ahead of its calendar year schedule. For instance, the data for January were posted a week ago, several days before the end of the (short) month of February. This on-or-before-it’s-due delivery of numbers is crucial to those who analyze international travel to the United States.
But, back to the present. It is clear, from the welter of news coverage and analytical commentary on international travel and tourism, that expectations are high for a recovery in the market (see especially “Weary, Wary Brits Have Cause to Cheer” elsewhere in this issue of INBOUND) now that millions more people are vaccinated each day and the number of COVID-19 news cases and deaths are declining.
One measure that will probably be a reliable benchmark against which to measure a recovery is to follow the performance of the key markets in the tables below. Of particular interest will be the hope-for recovery of the Chinese market—the erstwhile Number 3 overseas source market for inbound tourism to the U.S.—which hasn’t even charted in the Top 20 this year. Read on.
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