Ever since the USA’s inbound international travel tourism industry hit the deepest darkest depths of its performance from mid-2020 to mid-2021, the conventional wisdom among those of us looking for some way to measure what recovery is, or should be like, have settled on 2019. While the professional tourism economists and statisticians have their standard ways of analyzing what has or has not really happened, others consistently settle on 2019.
So, INBOUND has taken a look at some of the available data (most of it is produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office) and tries to present it here in ways that are readily measurable (as in “quick-and-ready”) in our attempt to give the numbers some meaning. Random thoughts follow:
- Why 2019? Many of us in the industry use 2019 because it was a healthy year for the overall numbers of overseas, long-hall visitors to the U.S. A majority (11 countries from NTTO’s monthly Top 20) of them set records for the number of visitors they sent to the United States. So, comparing 2022 against 2019 is valid if one wants evidence.
- Other numbers that are important: For all of 2019, the USA received 40.4 million overseas visitors. In 2020, the number plummeted to 7.6 million. Last year, it rebounded ever so slightly to 9.2 million. (Through July, the overall figure for 2022 was already more than 11 million.)
- Why July? Generally, July is the strongest month for overseas visitors, so we used measurements from July (although, preliminary NTTO data indicated that August will be slightly stronger). The table below shows us that, yes, it is still going to be a weak year over all.
- However, the same July numbers show us that two country markets, Colombia and Chile, have actually increased their number vs. July 2019.
- Finally, more than a dozen of the Top 20 were down around 20 percent (not a cataclysmic number at all) or less vs. 2019,
There are more data on the subject at NTTO’s website. In the meantime, spending a few minutes looking at that numbers for 2022 and 2019 are likely to make you feel better about the rest of the year and 2023, which is just around the fiscal corner.
Top 20 Overseas Tourist-Generating Countries
Month of July 2022 vs. July 2019*
|Country of Residence & Rank||Number of Arrivals July 2022||No. of Arrivals July 2019||% Increase/Decline From 2019 to 2022|
|1. United Kingdom||361,313||455,044||-20.2%|
|6. South Korea||114,841||222,906||-46.3%|
|15. Dominican Republic||45,460||55,797||-19.6%|
* Caution: data material was entered manually. Percentage figures were rounded.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office