International visitor arrivals to the US grew in 2018 over the past year, but there are still issues with the degree of recovery since the visitor declines that were first experienced in 2017.
Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, pulled no punches in expressing concerns with US visitor numbers, which continued to grow at a slower pace in comparison to other world destinations.
“America’s share of the global tourism market continues to decline,” said Dow during a press conference at the IPW 2019 conference and trade show in Anaheim, which is ongoing this week.
International travel increased by an average of about 6% during 2018, while travel to the US from outside the continent crept up by just 2% in comparison. Examples of other international arrival rates were increases of 6% to Europe and Asia, and 10% to the Middle East.
Dow said that the roots of the slowdown are, for one, based on current federal government policies, which are reducing access through the country’s borders and also delaying the processing of entry visas – both in the name of domestic safety and security.
“These are both big concerns for us,” said Dow. “These are detrimental to the tourism industry and to the economy in general.”
Dow acknowledged that safety and security at the country’s borders is paramount. But he called for more consultation with the current administration to find a middle ground that encourages a return to more international visitors to the US while maintaining robust border security measures.