National travel spend in the United States has slowed down but generally continues an upward trend. More states seeing signs of improvement

20 July, 2020

The general trend in US travel spend is on the increase, but at a very slow pace. There was an increase of 10% last week over the previous week that reflected the uptake in travel for the 04-Jul holiday weekend, but this week sees spend drop back, albeit up +5% compared to two weeks ago at USD11.8 billion.

According to the latest report issued by Tourism Economics for the US Travel Association, the week ending 11-Jul-2020 saw a general decline in travel spend with an -18% decrease in car travel while air travel remained unchanged, indicating a lot of the 04-Jul travel was undertaken by car. Overall travel spend is down -50% on last year’s levels for the same period.

Air travel remains largely unchanged week on week, with 672,000 TSA screenings for the seven day average for the week ending 14-Jul-2020, the same as in the seven day period that included the 04-Jul holiday weekend. That however is -74% down on the same period in 2019.

Weekly travel spend losses across the various regions for the week ending 11-Jul-2020 continues to increase to varying degrees. In the Northeast the loss has increased 5 percentage points to USD2.5 billion, the Midwest loss increased 7 percentage points to USD1.7 billion, the South up 6 percentage points to USD3.8 billion and the West up 4 percentage points to USD3.6 billion.

The report estimates that in the 19 weeks since the pandemic started in Mar-2020 the US travel industry has lost almost USD285 billion. Once again different regions have fared better or worse than others with the Northeast down a cumulative total of USD56.6 billion, Midwest down USD44.6 billion, South down USD97.3 billion and the West USD86.2 billion.

The District of Colombia and Hawaii both continue to record over -70% declines year over year in travel spend, and in addition to these two there are now 13 states recording over -50% declines in travel spend, up from five states a week ago.

More than half of the states previously posting weekly losses of less than -40% fell below this benchmark, as the number shrank from 31 states to 15 states. The only states and territories to improve this week were Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Maine.

If you take the past two weeks together, to eliminate the temporary boost provide by the 04-Jul holiday weekend, most states have been improving. The exceptions are Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee.

The report estimates that if this trend continues to the end of 2020 losses of USD505 billion will be recorded for the travel industry, with USD81 billion lost in federal, state and local taxes by the end of the year.

Tourism Economics has looked at the potential impacts of the three programmes that have been designed to accelerate recovery: federal grants for travel promotion, a travel tax credit to spur travel and create demand for job growth, and an industrywide initiative to assure, inspire, motivate and encourage Americas to travel in the US.

These three recovery initiatives are estimated to generate USD71 billion for the travel industry by the end of 2021 delivering USD163 billion in economic output and restore nearly 800,000 jobs.