US Travel Continues Growth, but Forecast Retreats

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Following a dip in growth for July, U.S. travel volume rose to 52.2 in August on the U.S. Travel Association’s current travel index. August marks the 80th consecutive month that travel has expanded.

An index score above 50 indicates expansion, and the six-month moving average index score is 51.8.

Domestic travel rose to an index score of 52.4, a level last seen in May and 0.5 points above the six-month average. International travel has tapered off, but it posted an index score of 50.4 in August, identical with the six-month average. The business travel index score rose by two points month over month to 52, and the leisure travel index rose by 1.3 points to 52.6.

The U.S. Travel Association commented on domestic travel for the months ahead:

Rapid growth in domestic leisure travel is expected to decelerate now that the summer travel season has ended, while the domestic business travel market will remain stagnant at best. As a result, total domestic travel in the U.S. is expected to grow around 1.4 percent (YoY) through the beginning of 2017, a considerably slower rate than in the past few years. Drivers of leisure demand, including a strong labor market and low gas prices, will remain strong, though not of the same caliber experienced during the summer.

The Association also cited Adam Sacks, of the Oxford Tourism Economics group:

As the end of the summer travel season approaches and a strong dollar persists, international inbound travel continues to relax. Looking forward, a softening in domestic leisure travel is indicative of rising uncertainty around the U.S. presidential election, while domestic business travel will struggle in the coming months—a result of still-skittish investment, in part due to the uncertainty surrounding the raising of interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

For more data and the methodology employed in constructing the indexes, see the association’s website.