US tourism falls: Washington DC is the worst hit, report says

Written by CNN Staff Writer In the aftermath of the axing of travel subsidies and higher airport charges at the beginning of the year, the State Department’s travel warning has put the US on…

US tourism falls: Washington DC is the worst hit, report says

Written by CNN Staff Writer

In the aftermath of the axing of travel subsidies and higher airport charges at the beginning of the year, the State Department’s travel warning has put the US on a level with less popular destinations, such as the Republic of Georgia and the Ukraine.

That’s pushed tourism from the US lower across the board.

The share of UK tourists traveling to the US fell by 2.3% in 2017 compared to 2016 , to 1.97 million, according to the annual World Travel Trends report published by the UK National Tourism Board.

Airport charges and visa fees went up by 5.7% in 2017 compared to 2016, according to the ING’s annual Visa Misery Index (VMI). In New York, costs rose to $22, compared to $19 in 2016, while in Hawaii costs jumped to $12.73, compared to $12 in 2016.

“Fees and charges are increasing at an unacceptable rate and should be considered as barriers to travel, such as the high fees charged by banks in certain countries and the clumsily implemented visa application process.” — Joris von Berg, ING Director of Global Travel Strategy

While some markets such as Australia and China showed slight increases, visitors to the US took a hit — in the case of the island state of Hawaii, the first decline in its VMI history. The data reflects overall trends in online travel data compiled by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

People aren’t so keen on flying to the US anymore, or to flying within it. In 2017, airline fees and fuel prices rose 2.3% and 4.5%, respectively, according to government data. In comparison, the cost of gas and food, as well as airline costs, fell.

Still, if the numbers show an overall decline in numbers, the US travel picture is improving for some.

Despite a decline in visitors from the UK, US arrivals have gone up since 2016, rising by 5.7% compared to 2017.

“If the recent trends continue the US can probably sustain the 5.7% growth it saw in 2017. It will need at least some of the uptick seen in 2018, the last year for which data are available, to sustain that kind of growth. Even if US arrivals grow by 2-3% over the next few years, the 5.7% growth rate in 2017 could not be sustained,” says Dani Fulks, ING Bank’s Director of Global Travel Strategy.

Some US destinations show growth for 2018 and beyond.

You can read the World Travel Trends report, based on industry data and projections from ING, here.

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