Reading the numbers—Western European share plummets, South and Central America increases. While they likely do not represent a lasting shift or have any real long-term meaning, the latest monthly data posted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTT0) offer a snapshot of what the anemic pandemic-era overseas travel market has done to the overseas arrivals.
Released last month at about the same time as the last issue of INBOUND, the data for April 2021 tell us that a full year of the COVID-18 virus and the global pandemic that it brought about have produced the worst one-year period of overseas arrivals ever. But, as the tables below indicate, some country markets have actually improved their share of the U.S. overseas inbound travel market. Following are some notes from the expanded number of NTTO tables we feature for the month:
⦁ The year-on-year increases shown for the year ending with April are not errors. They show what happen when one compares an extraordinarily weak market from no market a year ago. (For most countries, the pandemic did not hit the global population until April 2020.)
⦁ The combination of Western Europe and Asia, which sent two-thirds of all overseas arrivals to the U.S. in April 2019 and almost 72 percent in 2020, this April produced less than 22 percent of all overseas arrivals.
⦁ Meanwhile, the regional markets of South America and Central America combined, which in April 2019 generated just more than 17 percent of overseas arrivals, and 16.5 percent in April 2020, produced more than 55 percent of overseas arrivals to the U.S. among world regions.
⦁ Of course, these numbers don’t represent a trend. They are, as has been noted, for a single month during the worst one-year period the inbound tourism industry in the United States has ever experienced. Given the amount of booking activity recently reported in some country markets as more nations opened their borders and created some two-way international traffic, there could be some meaningful recovery to report toward the end of the third quarter of 2021.