The US business and leisure travel sector continues to rank number one in the world, with the country representing 20 per cent of the world’s tourism GDP contribution.
However a drop in inbound travel because of the strength of the dollar and anti-foreign sentiment are expected to dampen growth figures, a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council suggests.
Travel contributed US$1.5 trillion, or 8.1 per cent, to the country’s GDP in 2016 and supported over 14 million jobs, which is 9.4 per cent of total employment.
For 2017, growth is expected to be 2.3 per cent, slower than the rate of 2.8 per cent seen in 2016.
According to the report, the contribution of tourism to the USA’s GDP will predominantly be stimulated by strong outbound expenditure, which is expected to grow by 5.4 per cent in 2017.
As the dollar strength is expected to persist, US based travel companies and tour operators selling outbound holidays will benefit from travel abroad becoming cheaper for US citizens.
The most likely beneficiaries of this strong growth are expected to be Canada and Mexico, as well as the Caribbean and Mediterranean destinations.
Visitor exports, which is money spent by foreign visitors in a country, is expected to fall by 0.6 per cent, primarily because continued dollar strength will make the US less attractive from a pricing perspective.
There are indications in flight search data that sentiment towards the US has suffered significantly in recent weeks, as a consequence of the Trump administration’s controversial attempted travel ban on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries.
WTTC president David Scowsill said: “The US is a beautiful and strong tourism destination.
“It currently ranks number one in the world in terms of the sector’s contribution to GDP, twice the size of the nearest competitor, China.
“Stimulated by the marketing approach of Brand USA established in 2011 and the visa facilitation efforts undertaken, international arrivals have shown very strong growth over the last few years.
“For the US to continue on this growth path, it is important to address the current forecast drop in inbound travel, and to reverse the negative perceptions created by the proposed travel ban.”