Tourism officials in the United States say inbound tourism volumes coming out of the pandemic will skyrocket beyond those of expert opinions.
Speaking at the IPW 2021 travel conference in Las Vegas this week, both US Travel Association CEO Roger Dow and Brand USA CEO Chris Thompson said projections by forecasters on the tourism recovery being several years are well off the mark.
“The current rate economists are saying is that it will probably take four years from back in 2019. I personally, and my friend Chris Thompson, do not believe that,” the outgoing USTA chief said.
“We think there is a coil-spring out there and when this thing starts up again it’s going to come along faster and bigger than anyone ever thought,” Dow said.
“After September 11, people said no one would get on an international flight again. It will be too dangerous. Followed by the greatest years of international travel in the world. After [the] 2008 recession, people said one-third of hotels in America would never open again, followed by the biggest boom in hotel openings and travel for 10 straight years.”
Thompson’s remarks echoed Dow’s sentiments while acknowledging that international travel is going to be the last segment to recover.
“I agree with Roger 100 percent. Smart people that are economists and forecasters suggest that it could be four years before we see 2019 numbers. I disagree entirely. I think it’s going to be way quicker than that”.
“After being separated for 18 months or more the world is exhausted and we know that travel can renew and rejuvenate us. It does at the best of times but certainly in these times. There’s so much hunger for travel that people are ready to go,” Thompson said.
On Monday, the White House announced the US would reopen its borders from 1 November to air travellers from more than countries including most of Europe, China, India and Brazil, for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“In light of the Administration’s announcement, I’m happy to say that we’re ready to welcome back the world to the United States.”
Thompson also unveiled the next chapter of Brand USA’s ‘United Stories’ campaign – part of the tourism authority’s recovery approach from the pandemic. The latest iteration is focused on reconnecting and uniting people through travel to the USA, and the diversity of people, places and experiences in the country.
The Brand USA boss also gave a sneak peek of what the latest evolution of the United Stories campaign – Find Your Story – looks like (viewed on the YouTube link below).
Having missed a year in 2020 due to the pandemic, this year’s 52nd IPW was understandably considerably smaller. Whereas the multiday show would normally welcome 6,000 participants from around the world, this year the number of registered delegates was 2,600 including 700 from 52 countries overseas.
Next month, the organisation will hold the Brand USA Travel Week Europe in London, bringing together key players from US and European travel industry to discuss trends, challenges and innovations.
Lead image: Chris Thompson