According to a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the United States stands to lose $155 billion this year due to the lack of international travelers—or $425 million per day. Thanks, COVID-19.
In 2019, international travelers to the U.S. spent $195.1 billion on travel in the U.S., but given the pandemic-induced travel restrictions, it's rather tricky for international travelers to visit in 2020. The problem is a combination of regulations put in place by the U.S. as well as ones implemented by other countries. The U.S. is currently banning visitors from China, Iran, Europe's Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil, whereas some countries, including Australia, are forbidding its citizens from traveling overseas.
The silver lining for the U.S. economy, however, is that international travelers only comprised 16 percent of the country's total tourism earnings in 2019—domestic travelers spent more than $1 trillion. Of course, domestic travel is also restricted, with many states implementing strict quarantine protocols for some out-of-state visitors, meaning that tourism spend is going to go down no matter what.
The impact of the lack of international travelers will be most strongly felt in cities like New York, where 45 percent of tourism spend comes from visitors from abroad, per the WTTC report.
"We urgently need to replace blanket quarantine measures with rapid, comprehensive, and cost-effective test and trace programs at departure points across the country. This investment will be significantly less than the impact of blunt quarantines which have devastating and far-reaching socioeconomic consequences," WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said in a statement.
"A fast turnaround test and trace system in place for all departing passengers means that governments could consider reinstating travel between America and major international hubs, a move which would help kick-start the economic global recovery."
World Travel & Tourism Council. "United States Looks Set to Lose $155 Billion from Missing International Tourists and Visitors, Says WTTC." Sept. 2, 2020