USA relies on travel growth from Americas to ease international arrivals slump

USA relies on travel growth from Americas to ease international arrivals slump

USA. International air travel to the USA continues to be negatively affected by the impact of President Trump’s travel restrictions and the weak Pound Sterling after the UK’s decision to exit the EU, according to analyst ForwardKeys.

Arrivals to the USA from Middle East & Africa and Europe (and the UK in particular) declined in 2017, and have fallen -0.02% in the first two months of this year compared to the same period in 2017.

However, an increase in international bookings to the USA from other parts of the Americas over the next six months could signal some recovery, the analyst said.

Forward bookings to August from the Americas are up +7% compared with last year, while bookings to the USA from other regions are ahead just +0.5%.

Last year saw an overall -2% drop in arrivals following the first of Trump’s bans on travellers from a group of mainly Muslim countries.

An unfavourable Pound Sterling to US Dollar exchange rate following the 2016 Brexit vote also continued into last year. As a result, UK traveller numbers to the USA declined, according to ForwardKeys.

“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,” said ForwardKeys CEO and Co-Founder Olivier Jager.

Chinese arrivals also flattened in 2017 after substantial growth in 2016. Mexican travellers, who may have been deterred by Donald Trump’s border wall project in 2017, are showing signs of returning to the USA. Forward bookings to August are ahead +28.9%.

Brazil’s emergence from economic crisis is reflected in a +24.8% increase in bookings over the next six months.

Key gateways

Within USA, Miami International Airport – traditionally Florida’s biggest gateway – has lost arrivals to competing neighbours Orlando International and Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International airports. German, British and Mexican travellers chose the latter two airports over Miami in 2017. Overall its traffic performance was down -1%.

German travellers are choosing to transfer to Miami’s competitor destinations from airports in New York or Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. British Airways started flights to Fort Lauderdale last July – with the airport offering convenient cruise connections.

Direct flights to Fort Lauderdale from Mexico have added capacity. Travellers from Argentina and Brazil are also travelling in increasing numbers to Miami’s rivals.

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