Total travel spending in the U.S. is predicted to drop 45 percent by the end of this year, spurring renewed calls for federal measures to support the industry.
According to a forecast prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics, domestic travel spending is forecast to drop 40 percent (from $972 billion in 2019 to $583 billion in 2020) while international inbound spending is expected to freefall 75 percent ($155 billion to $39 billion).
Total domestic trips taken by U.S. residents are expected to fall 30 percent from last year to 1.6 billion—the lowest figure since 1991, another recession year.
The forecast numbers arrive as U.S. Travel hosts its first-ever “Virtual Hill Week,” connecting members of the industry with lawmakers to discuss travel priorities and needs. Nearly 300 industry members will participate in 75 online meetings with lawmakers in both the House and Senate.
“The data is telling us that travel and tourism has been more severely damaged than any other U.S. industry by the economic fallout of the health crisis,” said U.S. Travel Association executive vice president for public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes, in a statement. “Given that travel employed one in 10 Americans and was the No. 2 U.S. export before the pandemic, supporting this industry through to the recovery phase ought to be a national priority.
Emerson adds that the U.S. Travel Association is asking for relief, protection and a stimulus for the travel industry. The policy priorities members of the travel industry will discuss in Congress this week include:
- Extending Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to destination marketing organizations (DMOs). Though they are crucial engines of local and regional economic development, most DMOs are currently ineligible for aid because they carry a non-profit or quasi-governmental designation.
- Protection from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits for businesses that follow proper health and safety guidelines.
- Provide $10 billion in Economic Development Administration grants for DMOs and small businesses to promote healthy travel practices and encourage visitation to businesses, attractions and communities where it is safe travel.
The U.S. Travel Association is also pushing for tax incentives to restart of the travel economy. To reduce the time it takes to get to full recovery, it says, Congress should specifically create a tax credit worth 50 percent of qualified travel expenses incurred in the U.S. between the date of enactment and December 31, 2021, up to a maximum tax credit of $4,000 per household. Qualified travel expenses should include any expense over $50 that is incurred while traveling away from home in the U.S., with explicit reference to the expense of meals, lodging, recreation, transportation, amusement or entertainment, business meetings or events and gasoline.
Source: U.S. Travel Association