Int’l travel to U.S. will recover by 2025 but could be much sooner if pre-departure testing lifted, says Dow at IPW
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow (seventh from left) with executives from Brand USA, tourism boards, cruise lines and more at IPW 2022

Int’l travel to U.S. will recover by 2025 but could be sooner if pre-departure testing lifted, says Dow at IPW

ORLANDO — IPW is in fine form in Orlando this week with some 4,800 attendees from 60+ countries converging on the Orange County Convention Center, for no fewer than 77,000 business appointments, all geared to keeping the U.S. travel industry’s recovery ticking along at a good pace.

That includes recovery from the Canadian market. Long heralded as the number one market for inbound travel to the U.S., our standing slipped during the pandemic to the #2 spot. While Canadians stayed at home throughout the two years of travel restrictions, the Mexico market surged to #1.

Canada is still heavily invested in U.S. travel, however, and will no doubt regain its top spot in the months and years to come.

Overall, while domestic travel in the U.S. is eclipsing 2019 levels, international travel is still down, by 40% as of April 2022.

Int’l travel to U.S. will recover by 2025 but could be much sooner if pre-departure testing lifted, says Dow at IPW

Chris Thompson, President and CEO, Brand USA

Due to the pandemic, traditionally strong markets including China, Japan and South Korea dropped out of the U.S.’s top 10.

“During the pandemic international travel was down 80%, which is just not acceptable. We have improved as of April, down to about 40% but we still have a long way to go. Economists are saying a recovery by 2025 but I believe it will be much sooner,” says U.S. Travel Association President and CEO, Roger Dow.

According to U.S. Travel’s updated international travel forecast, some 65 million international arrivals are projected for 2023 (82% of pre-pandemic levels). The forecast projects that international arrivals and spending will fully recover to 2019 levels by 2025.

“A COILED SPRING”

Dow likened travel to “a coiled spring – and it’s going to come back much faster than anyone thinks, especially once we get some hurdles out of the way.”

Those hurdles include the pre-departure testing requirement, still in place for international travellers departing for the U.S., even while many countries, including Canada, have dropped the requirements.

“It’s really important is to get rid of pre-departure testing,” said Dow yesterday, noting that the U.S. reopened to international travel in November 2021. “The government is still holding on to the pre-departure testing requirement for all vaccinated air travellers when entering the U.S. And this is really an unnecessary hurdle, especially when many countries have eliminated many requirements.”

According to polls, more than half of international travellers say the added uncertainty associated with pre-departure testing is causing them to cancel trips or have an otherwise negative impact.

“Seventy-one percent of adults that we surveyed said they prioritize traveling to destinations without cumbersome requirements. Travellers are just like water, they’ll seek the easiest way, and if someone makes it difficult, they’ll go another way. So we’re working diligently on getting this testing requirement lifted,” said Dow.

Last month U.S. Travel and other industry organizations teamed up with industry and business organizations to send a letter to the White House, asking for urgent repeal of pre-departure testing for vaccinated international travellers.

U.S. Travel’s data suggests the U.S. could gain an additional 5.4 million visitors and $9 billion in spending by the end of 2022 if the pre-departure testing requirement were removed.

Visa processing slowdowns for countries requiring visas for travel to the U.S. are also putting a dent in the recovery.

One reporter during yesterday’s media conference asked about gun violence in the U.S., and the impact on inbound travel.

Said Dow: “I’m a father and grandfather, so I think about safety, and gun violence is one of the most difficult problems we have. We just did a poll with Politico and 80% of Americans are saying to Congress, I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, we’ve got to do something, this is unacceptable. But no question about it, it’s a serious problem and if we can’t do anything about it, we’ll be hurt from a travel standpoint.”

As reported earlier this week, IPW 2022 will be Dow’s last as the head of U.S. Travel, a position he’s held for 17 years.

IPW 2022 will wrap up tonight with a closing event at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure. IPW opened with night at EPCOT’s World Showcase in Walt Disney World, and last night there was a Destination Downtown Orlando event.

The 54th annual IPW will take place May 20-24, 2023, in San Antonio. It’s the first time the Texas city will serve as IPW host.

Int’l travel to U.S. will recover by 2025 but could be much sooner if pre-departure testing lifted, says Dow at IPW

IPW 2022’s opening event on June 5, 2022 at EPCOT’s World Showcase in Walt Disney World