A recent report released by the International Trade Administration found that international travel for US citizens was down by 3% throughout 2008-2009. Overseas spending was down even further at 12%. In this new age of technology, countries have become so interconnected that the economic status of one country can easily affect nations around the world.
To understand this, we must first understand the US environment of international travel. Did you know that about 39% of travelers come from Middle Atlantic States like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania? Why, you may ask? This study found that 40% of US travel overseas was for leisure, recreation, and holiday purposes. This dip in overseas travel comes as no surprise as the economy took the hardest hit on disposable income. By limiting the cash on-hand, US citizens were no longer able to spend on non-essentials – especially those getaway international vacations. As for international business travel, only 16% of international travel was business related. As companies had to scale back on their budget, the travel fund in many cases was the first to go and was reduced by 2% in the United States overall.
According to the ITA, during 2008-2009, most US citizens traveled to Mexico (19.5 million visitors) followed by Canada (11.7 million), the United Kingdom (2.7 million), and France (1.9 million). Of the top 10 foreign destinations, all but one country declined in the number of US visitors it received. As countries around the world continue to recover from the recession, what should we expect in the next year?
A CNN report found that US sentiment was not geared toward international travel. Instead, they found that US citizens do not have the international travel desire primarily due to:
- the United States’ own rich cultural and geographic diversity
- American skepticism and/or ignorance about international destinations
- a work culture that prevents Americans from taking long vacations abroad
- prohibitive cost and logistics of going overseas.
While this may or may not be true, one thing is certain – when economies get back in track and grow and stabilize, people will begin to feel more comfortable and secure enough to spend more on international travel. Recent figures from the US Department of Commerce have already announced this year that international travel increased 8% during the third quarter of 2010. This is already the largest quarterly since the beginning of 2004. With an optimistic first quarter with economic growth and consumer confidence, it is hoped that this is just the beginning of an upward trend.