The travel market recovery in five simple stats

Is it time to celebrate yet? International visitation to the United States is one month shy of posting a year’s worth of monthly gains. More people are coming, and they’re opening their wallets. A travel recovery is in the works, and it’s being fueled with foreign cash – a net benefit for U.S. travel industry workers.

How can you tell we’re on the upswing? Well, take a look at the five facts below, thanks to the U.S. Department of Commerce:

1. Travel is up: visits to the United States from abroad are up 12 percent from the first eight months of 2009 to the first eight months of this year, marking the eleventh consecutive month of year-over-year increases. So far this year, 40.2 million international visitors have come to the United States.2. August was hot: forget about how red the thermometer got. Instead, wrap your head around the fact that 6.4 million people visited the United States that month, a gain of 11 percent from August 2009.

3. They are spending: early in the recovery, visits were growing, but spending wasn’t. This is changing. Over the first eight months of this year, visitors from outside the United States dropped $88.2 billion here, up 10 percent from the same period in 2009. In August alone, the eighth month in a row in which spending grew, they spent $11.5 billion, an increase of 15 percent from August 2009.

4. They’re coming from everywhere: 17 of the top 20 countries registered increases from the first eight months of 2009 to the first eight months of 2010, with only the United Kingdom, Ireland and Venezuela posting declines. And, there’s momentum: for the month of August, 18 of the top 20 countries posted year-over-year gains.

5. And to everywhere: the concentration of visits coming to the top three and top 15 ports of entry has fallen slightly, indicating a slight increase in variety. Still, 38 percent of visitors came through the top three ports of entry in the country – i.e., New York JFK, Miami and Los Angeles – with the top 15 accounting for 82 percent of visits.

[photo by borman818 via Flickr]

Deloitte says business travel up for 2011, 80% to hit the road more

Business travelers are back in 2011. At least, that’s what global professional services firm Deloitte is saying. After two years of corporate austerity, the business traveler is taking to the skies and road again, and this has to be great news for airlines and hotels, as it’s the corporate set that really brings in the cash they count on. The numbers look good for next year, according to this survey, which means a little more elbow room for the beleaguered tourism and travel industry.

The company surveyed 1,001 business travelers and found that 80 percent are expecting to take more trips than they did in 2010, with 79 percent forecasting that spending will be the same or higher. This follows gains in 2010, in which only 29 percent said they expected the full year to net out to a decline relative to 2009.

According to Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman and tourism, hospitality and leisure sector leader, Deloitte LLP, “The travel industry was not immune to the economic slowdown, but the confidence demonstrated by business travelers who responded to our survey suggests a brighter outlook for the industry as a whole.”
This follows a tough period for business travel. Deloitte noted in a statement:

Due to the recession, 72 percent of survey respondents had monitored their business travel expenses in various ways this past year. In particular, business travelers said they had cut back on overall travel costs (37 percent), reduced the duration of their trips (33 percent), or spent less on food/restaurants (32 percent). More than one in five (21 percent) booked less expensive hotel rooms.

Not only were belts tightening, but people were watching. Deloitte found that 59 percent of respondents indicated their companies were enforcing corporate travel policies more strictly. Fifty percent revealed that they have to get pre-trip approval for business travel, with 42 percent saying that “their company guidelines currently covered booking accommodations in advance.” Close to a third reported dollar limits on accommodations.

New York, Miami and Los Angeles dominant U.S. ports of entry

How do people get to the United States? Well, most of them seem to come in through the same places, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The top 15 ports of entry handled 83 percent of all arrivals in July 2010. This is a 2 percentage-point drop from July 2009, but it’s still a substantial concentration.

Three spots were responsible for 38 percent of all incoming visitors from outside the United States: New York JFK Airport, Miami and Los Angeles. This is off a percentage point from July 2009. Meanwhile, 13 of the top 15 ports of entry in the United States sustained traffic growth from July 2009 to July 2010, seven of them in double digits.

[photo by ToreLo via Flickr]

Five signs people are traveling to the U.S. from overseas, recovery in progress

Travel to the United States from overseas is up drastically from last year. For the first seven months of 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, foreign visitation is up 12 percent relative to the same period in 2009. In July alone, 6.3 million people came to the country, a whopping 15 percent gain from July 2009, making it the tenth month in a row in which arrivals increased.

And, finally, these folks are spending more.

From January through July, foreign visitors dropped $76.7 billion into the U.S. economy, a 10 percent jump from last year. They spent $11.6 billion in July 2010, a surge of 18 percent and an indication of a pleasant financial trajectory. Spending by overseas visitors to the United States has grown year-over-year every month in 2010.

So, what do the details look like? There’s a lot of good news, the U.S. Department of Commerce reveals. Here are five stats that are sure to delight the U.S. tourism and travel industry:
1. Seventeen of the top 20 countries for U.S. visitation registered increases in people traveling here for the first seven months of the year – the only declines were from the United Kingdom, Venezuela and Ireland.

2. Twelve of these countries experienced double-digit increases, including Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China and Australia.

3. In July this year, 19 of the top 20 countries posted year-over-year gains, with Venezuela the lone holdout (down a modest 1 percent).

4. Double-digit gains came in July for 15 of the top 20 countries.

5. Arrivals from overseas locations (i.e., not Canada or Mexico) increased 15 percent from July to July and 12 percent from the first seven months of 2009 to the first seven months of 2010.

And, Canada has been busy. Air arrivals from our northern neighbor shot up 20 percent in July 2010, with land arrivals up 16 percent. For the year, air is up 15 percent, and land is up 12 percent. Mexico posted double-digit growth for both forms of arrival for both the month of July and the first seven months of 2010.

Of course, you don’t learn much by comparing 2009 to 2010, because 2009 was such a disaster. The effects of the financial crisis lingered, squeezing wallets shut and keeping people at home. So, you have to look back to 2008 to see if we’ve made any real progress.

Well, the news is positive. Visits from overseas increased 1 percent from the first seven months of 2009 to the first seven months of 2010. From July 2009 to July 2010, we experienced a 7 percent increase.

People are getting on planes again, and they’re visiting us. The travel market is coming back, but we’re still early in the process.

[photo by pheezy via Flickr]

Immigration law costs Arizona hotels a bundle

The cost of closing down the borders may be higher than you think. At least, that’s what the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association is saying. Tourists have cut back their visits to the state, the association believes, because of the recent controversial immigration law. Tourism and travel companies claim they’ve lost millions of dollars because of how the state is being perceived.

According to ABC 15 in Arizona:

“I think any time there’s something controversial that would even cause a group to think there’s something negative it’s an easy choice when you have so many other destinations to choose from,” said Debbie Johnson, President and CEO of the association.

Of course, there are claims that the economy – not immigration laws – is responsible for the drop in Arizona tourism business, and to a certain extent, this is true. Some hotels have sustained 40 percent drops in call activity, and hotels are saying that some groups are backing out of tentative bookings because of the immigration law.

[photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr]