The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) recently released an international visitation forecast, its first since the onset of the pandemic. The forecast, which extends until 2027, projects that inbound travel will fully recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2025. This is consistent with U.S. Travel’s fall 2022 forecast. By 2027, NTTO projects that there will be 91 million international visitations, which is in line with the government’s recently-announced National Travel and Tourism Strategy.

By the Numbers:

  • In 2023, NTTO expects total visitations to remain far behind, at 79% of pre-pandemic levels. Japan and China—our second and third largest overseas markets in 2019—are projected to lag at just 39% and 30%, respectively. The only major market that is forecast to be fully recovered this year is Colombia, with India and the Netherlands just slightly behind. Despite a near-complete recovery from Canada in October and November (relative to those months in 2019), NTTO expects that total 2023 visitations from our northern neighbor will remain at just 81% of 2019 levels. 
  • In 2024, the recovery is expected to pick up significantly, reaching 94% of pre-pandemic levels.
  • In 2027, NTTO projects that inbound travel will reach to 115% of 2019 levels. Even then, the recovery is expected to remain uneven, ranging from India (projected at 126% of 2019 levels in 2027) to Japan (only 93%). 

Our take: 

The recent slowdown in inbound travel’s recovery in recent months—and the expectation that visitations from China and Japan will remain far behind for the next couple of years—means that we should never take the swift recovery of inbound travel as a given. While visitations from China will continue to face difficulty including limited flight connectivity, travel from Japan (our #2 overseas market pre-pandemic) is expected to suffer from a significantly reduced interest in foreign travel.

We are hopeful that a path to 90 million by 2027 remains achievable, but this requires that the right policies are put in place and the continued strength of Brand USA so that the U.S. remains a top destination in an increasingly competitive environment.

At the same time, we do hope that this forecast will turn out to be “too conservative”, especially as it relates to Canada, from where we have seen incredible growth throughout 2022.

U.S. Travel will be releasing its next forecast—which will include our projections on total international, overseas, Canadian and Mexican visitations—in June 2023.
 



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