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What’s going on with Australian travel to the US?

January 31, 2018 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Seemingly contradictory signals regarding travel to the US are puzzling the market. Aussies want to travel to the US; it’s top favourite on the wish list – but are they travelling? Here’s what’s going on.

  • Latest figures available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (trend estimates for short-term resident returns for November 2017 compared with November 2016) say travel to the US from Australia fell by -4.8% in that month.
  • Latest official figures from the US (issued last week by the US Department of Commerce) include a forecast that final figures for last year (2017) will be -2% down on the previous year. That indicates the downward trend is slowing, as visits from Australia to the US declined by -7% in 2016.
  • The official US forecast for this year (2018) is a 4% increase over 2017, with the following three years showing 3% increases in visitation from Australia, year on year. In the year to July 2017, however, the number of Australian tourists visiting the US fell -3.3%, according to US government and tourism agencies.
  • Roy Morgan research has just released survey findings which show that the US is “now clearly the preferred overseas holiday destination for Australians” with 17.9% of Australians in the year to November 2017 indicating they would like to holiday in the US for at least one night in the next two years – up 0.5% on a year ago.

Statue of Liberty, New York

So the intention to visit the US is there. But wishes do not always convert into actions. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” the old saying goes.

Roy Morgan noted that interviewing for the latest overseas holiday intention results was conducted entirely after the election of Donald Trump in November 2016. It says this shows the controversial US President has not had a negative impact on holiday intentions to the US as some had feared.

Many bodies in the US feel the opposite. The “Trump Slump” is a hot topic in the tourism sector.

The American Bus Association (ABA) – the industry leader advancing North American motorcoach group travel and tourism – has responded to a US National Travel and Tourism Office report showing a 3.3% drop in travel spending and a 4% decline in inbound travel, with a loss of USD 4.6 billion and 40,000 jobs.

ABA president and chief executive Peter Pantuso released the following statement:

“We are concerned about the fall in tourism to the United States and call on the administration to work with the travel and tourism community to show that the United States remains an open and welcoming destination.”

ABA has previously joined the travel and tourism community in calling on the Trump Administration to make clear statements that legitimate international business and leisure travellers remain welcome and are valued by the US.

The “Visit US Coalition”, an organisation established to reverse what is seen as a growing unpopularity of the US as a leisure destination, includes the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association.

Since 2015, the US and Turkey have been the only places among the top 12 global travel destinations to experience a decline in inbound visitors. Turkey experienced a series of terror attacks and a failed coup. The US had a strong dollar and Donald Trump. Other countries, including Australia, Canada, China and Britain, have made sizable gains in visitation over the same period.

The US share of international long-haul travel fell to 11.9% in 2016, from 13.6% in 2016, the US Travel Association says.

The 10 groups in the Visit US Coalition are: American Gaming Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association; American Society of Association Executives; Asian American Hotel Owners Association; International Association of Exhibitions and Events; National Restaurant Association; National Retail Federation; Society of Independent Show Organizers; US Chamber of Commerce; and US Travel Association.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. andrew says:

    The experience in the USA is summed up thus:
    Arrive at International Airport, queue for at least 45 minutes to get to a non communicative, grumpy immigration office.
    Long for a good cup of coffee – very hard to find
    Look forward to a good simple meal at a value price – pretty much impossible to find anything that is not fast food, loaded with salt & sugars, or good fresh produce or meats that are not factory farmed, bread that tastes like bread and cheese that tastes like cheese. Definitely impossible out of the big cities.
    Tip Tip and more tipping ( Add 20% to meal costs inc taxes)
    Be very careful where you go and realise that you could be shot at any time.
    Not on my bucket list!

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