In the treasure trove of information on inbound tourism to the USA that the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) recently released, the agency presents the information in such a way as to allow the data it prepared to tell the story, literally, of where and why the number of Brits visiting their favorite long-haul destination didn’t move the needle very much for the first 20 years (2000-2019) of the current century (Yes, we are aware that purists will insist the century began in 20th century began in 2001. So be it.).
INBOUND will also suggest that the seeds are there for a comeback of the UK market that could push the annual total number of Britons visiting the United States will surpass 5 million for the first time. (Japan, meanwhile, sent more than 5 million visitors to the United States in 1996, 1997 and 2000.)
First, the story:
—It surely looked as if the market was ready to send 5 million visitors to the USA in 2001 or 2002, given its performance and the condition of the global and UK economies. Then came Sept. 11, 2001 and the terrorist attack on the United States. The market crashed.
—Bit by bit, the market was crawled back for several years, then came the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The number of actual visitors (and future bookings, which usually are sold for a year or two out) plummeted.
—Another recovery was on the way when a skittish economy weakened further when the British people voting by the narrowest of margins in June 2016 to withdraw the nation from the European Union (EU). The fallout from this action took down 2016 and 2017.
—In 2019, the UK seemed poised once again to break the five-million-USA visitors mark (Indeed, 2019 was a very good year as the overall market was in a buoyant mood, with 11 of the Top 20 Overseas Markets setting a record for the number of annual visitors to the United States), and then came 2020.
Second, some key points. One can readily see in the information contained in the tables below that:
—Travel and tourism spending by the Brits for their USA holiday (not counting 2020) has remained stagnant.
—Even the smallest shred of good news about a destination causes UK travelers to create a spike in bookings for the destination.
—While the restrictions on, and confusion about, on non-essential UK travel abroad has dampened enthusiasm over long-haul travel, pent-up demand is still there.
—For the past 20 years, about three out of four UK visitors to the USA have indicated that a purpose of their trip is for a vacation (holiday), which is a major force in bringing families to America—especially Florida.
Note: Total Travel& Tourism + travel receipts (purchase if travel and tourism related goods and services, to include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the country of travel, and other items incident to a U.S. visit) + passenger fare receipts (fares paid by foreign residents to U.S. carriers for travel to the United States). All traveler spending data are subject to periodic, annual and decennial revisions. BEA releases data for various countries and various categories across three release dates throughout the year. The March release provides travel export estimates for only the largest export countries and for only the “Travel Receipts” category. NTTO estimates Passenger Air Transportation in order to provide a total travel and tourism export estimate prior to October of the current year, when that estimate otherwise would be released. All NTTO estimates are supplanted by the BEA October official release, and previously-released BEA estimates may be revised.
More valuable information, like that contained in the above tables, can be found at NTTO by clicking here, then visiting “Market and Sector Profiles.”