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Good news for Australia as US travel office fixes glitch

September 14, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As the US enters a period of unprecedented business optimism, the US National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) has resumed publishing international visitation and spending data – revealing that the outlook for Australian visitation to America is surprisingly good.

Forget the “Trump slump”. If it ever existed it is no longer deterring Australians from heading to the US. The doldrums are well and truly over.

Australia has bounded out of a period of decline and 1.37 million Australians are forecast to visit the US this year, +4% more than last year. The latest forecasts run up to the year 2022 and Australia is projected to do well throughout.

Visits by Australians to the US dived by -7% in 2016 and dipped by -2% last year, NTTO figures show. But from now on, it’s all up. Projected year-on-year increases through to 2022 are never less than +3% per year and sometimes hit +5%.

By 2022, Australian visits to the US are forecast to be +17% higher than the 2016 level. That’s a compound annual growth rate of +2.6%, which compares well with a lot of bigger source markets including the UK (+1.1%), Germany (+1.3%), Japan (+0.8%).

Australia is currently the 8th biggest overseas contributor of visitors to the US and is forecast to hold that position for the next four years while some of the other rankings shift.

The news comes as US small business optimism hits an all-time high. Confidence and optimism surged to a record level in August as the recent tax cuts and deregulation efforts of President Donald Trump led to more sales, hiring and investment, according to a survey by the US National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index jumped to 108.8 last month, the highest level ever recorded in the survey’s 45-year history. It beat the previous record of 108 in 1983, set during the second year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The August figure was up from a 107.9 reading in July.

Tourism: the sky’s the limit

Meanwhile, NTTO announced that the US welcomed more than 76.9 million international visitors into the country in 2017, who collectively spent a record-setting USD 251.4 billion, an increase of +2% over 2016.

The number of international travellers to the US rose +0.7% in 2017 compared to the previous year.  Growing markets were led by South Korea (+17.8%), Brazil (+11%), Argentina (+10%), Ireland (+9%), and Canada (+4.8%).  Growing markets outnumbered declining markets by two-to-one.

The release of data was delayed by underlying technical issues in reconciling records from difference sources, which led to the temporary suspension of publication of overseas arrivals data. The issue has now been resolved.

“International travellers continue to set spending records visiting the United States, and I expect that trend to continue in 2018 spawning further job growth,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

“The American tourism industry, which generated a trade surplus of more than USD 77.4 billion last year, continues to help drive our economy to new heights.”

Written by Peter Needham

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