US inbound air travel still gloomy
Slump following travel ban and Brexit persists
March 6, 2018
In the aftermath of President Trump’s travel ban and the Brexit referendum, international air travel to the USA has yet to recover, according to the latest figures from ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day.
The first two months of this year saw a flat performance – down 0.02% on 2017. Last year saw an overall slump of 2.0% in arrivals following the first of the Trump travel bans on travellers from a group of mainly Muslim countries. The ban hit arrivals not only from the Middle East and Africa, but also from Europe.
The Forwardkeys’ findings show that the impact of the downward value of sterling against the dollar, following the 2016 Brexit vote, persisted well into 2017 and put off many UK travellers, one of the United States’ biggest markets.
The number of Chinese visitors to the US also flattened out in 2017 after substantial growth in 2016.
Looking forward six months, international bookings to the US from within the Americas are currently 7% ahead of where they were at the same time last year, while long-haul bookings from elsewhere are just +0.5% ahead. The former could be the key to recovery.
Mexico – whose citizens may have been put off by Donald Trump’s border wall project – are showing signs of returning to the United States. Forward bookings to August are ahead 28.9%.
Brazil’s emergence from economic crisis continues to be reflected in bookings to the USA – currently ahead 24.8%.
Within the United States, Miami – traditionally Florida’s biggest destination city – is fighting a hard battle for business with neighbouring Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. It lost German, British and Mexican travellers to its two rivals during the past year. Overall performance was down 1.0%.
German travellers in particular are transferring to Miami’s competitor destinations from other cities such as New York and Atlanta. In addition, British Airways has been running flights to Fort Lauderdale since last July – convenient to rendezvous with cruises. And there is more capacity on direct flights to Fort Lauderdale from Mexico. Travellers from Argentina and Brazil are also going in increasing numbers to Miami’s rivals.
ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder, Olivier Jager, said: “Travel to, and within, the United States has seen fluctuating trends in recent years and one hopes that the latest booking numbers for travel within the Americas indicate an upturn. However, the changeable booking patterns demonstrate the need for fast accurate data to keep pace with events in order to make sound economic decisions whether one’s business is within the travel industry or beyond.”