Few Americans are traveling during the coronavirus pandemic — and it could get a bit worse.
New data from the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics predicts that total travel spending in the U.S. could drop 45 percent by the end of the year. The research forecasts domestic travel spending could drop 40 percent, from $972 billion in 2019 to $583 billion in 2020, and international inbound spending could freefall 75 percent, or $155 billion to $39 billion.
"Travel and tourism has been more severely damaged than any other U.S. industry by the economic fallout of the health crisis," U.S. Travel Association executive vice president Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement sent to FOX Business. "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.”
Total domestic trips taken by U.S. residents could fall 30 percent from last year to $1.6 billion, marking the lowest figure since 1991 when the country was in the midst of a recession.
The data comes on the heels of the U.S. Travel launching its first-ever "Virtual Hill Week," connecting nearly 300 industry members with lawmakers in the House and Senate to discuss travel priorities and needs, such as renewed calls for federal support.
Participants are expected to discuss extending Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to destination marketing organizations, as many are ineligible for aid since they carry a non-profit or quasi-governmental designation. Certain tax incentives including a temporary travel tax credit and credits for personal protective equipment is also on the discussing table, as well as protection from COVID-19-related lawsuits for businesses that follow safety guidelines.
“Our asks for lawmakers are substantial, but they're also simple,” the statement read. “We need relief, protection, and stimulus for the travel industry to make it past the worst of the crisis and help power an economic recovery.”