US sees softening in international visitor numbers

While global tourism is booming for many countries, Australia included, the US is losing market share to its rivals.

A report by travel industry economists Oxford Economics said “the U.S. continued to lose market share as global travel expanded,” recording a 2 per cent rise in travel into the US from outside the continent. This compares to arrivals to Europe and Asia (6 per cent) and the Middle East (10 per cent).

“There appears to be a triad of factors affecting the market. The global economy is slowing, most currencies have weakened against the dollar, and U.S. policy and rhetoric have damaged sentiment,” said Adam Sacks, president of the Oxford Economics subsidiary Tourism Economics.

“We see the latter two to be the prevailing factors over the past two years. The most notable effects of negative perceptions toward the U.S. are evident in travel from the Middle East, Mexico, China, and Germany.”

The US has recorded an average annual growth of 23 per cent over the last 10 years, but has been impacted by a drop in travel from China which “stopped in its tracks last year”, according to the report.

South Korea fell 3 per cent after averaging 11 per cent growth over the previous decade. Travel from Japan also fell by 4 per cent.

The factors behind the soft growth include rising trade tensions, softening global growth and the increase in the value of the dollar against other currencies.

“The weakening of currencies had a significant effect,” said the report. “Over the past five years, the cost of travel to the U.S. has increased more than 10% as a function of exchange rates alone for most major travel markets, including Brazil (42%), Mexico (35%), Canada (20%), and the UK (14%). It all makes the U.S. a much more expensive place to visit for citizens of much of the world.”