Despite rising inflation, domestic leisure and business travel is projected to surge in the short term due to pent-up demand and consumer savings, according to U.S. Travel Association’s biannual forecast for travel through 2026.
U.S. Travel estimates that $1.05 trillion will be spent on travel in the U.S. in 2022, but this is still 10 percent below 2019 levels and 16 percent lower where it should be in 2022 if not for the pandemic. Domestic leisure travel is currently driving the industry’s recovery, although the forecast projects that domestic business travel volume will reach 81 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year and 96 percent in 2023.
U.S. Travel applauded the Biden administration’s recent lifting of the pre-departure COVID testing requirement for inbound air travelers to the U.S., which it said could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of the year.
However, U.S. Travel and its partners are advocating for additional policy changes that would accelerate the recovery of business travel, including a tax extenders package that includes a temporary restoration of the entertainment business expense deduction and an extension of full expensing for business meals. These policies are also key priorities for ASAE and other members of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.
International inbound travel is also making strides toward recovery, although the recovery could be accelerated if the U.S. takes steps to reduce wait times for visitor visa interviews to less than 30 days, U.S. Travel said.