New Study Reveals Dire Extent of COVID-19 Impact on Travel

Travel spending in the United States is forecast to plummet 40 percent in 2020 while international inbound spending is projected to plunge an astonishing 75 percent, according to a recent study conducted by Tourism Economics on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association.

Due to ongoing travel restrictions and slumping demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, domestic travel spending for this year is expected to be $583 billion, compared to $972 billion a year ago. Despite improving comfort levels among travelers, the total number of domestic trips taken by Americans is also expected to fall by 30 percent from last year to 1.6 billion. The figure would mark the lowest number since 1991, a recession year for the U.S.

Meanwhile, international inbound spending could fall from $155 billion in 2019 to just $39 billion in 2020.

“The data is telling us that travel and tourism has been more severely damaged than any other U.S. industry by the economic fallout of the health crisis,” said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes, in a statement accompanying the report. “Given that travel employed one in 10 Americans and was the No. 2 U.S. export before the pandemic, supporting this industry through to the recovery phase ought to be a national priority.”

The gloomy study comes amid U.S. Travel’s first-ever “Virtual Hill Week,” which will see nearly 300 industry officials participating in dozens of online meetings with members of Congress, encouraging urgent assistance through additional relief measures.

Notable policy priorities being discussed this week include extending Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility to destination marketing organizations (DMOs); tax incentives to safely jumpstart the economy; protection from facetious COVID-related lawsuits for businesses adhering to proper health and safety guidelines and a federal backstop for the issuance of pandemic risk insurance.

“Our asks for lawmakers are substantial, but they’re also simple: we need relief, protection, and stimulus for the travel industry to make it past the worst of the crisis and help power an economic recovery,” added Barnes.

Click here to view the complete forecast from Tourism Economics.

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