USTA: US in Pandemic Lost $ 730B in Travel Spending

Domestic US leisure travel has surged over the past year, driving the travel industry recovery, but without the return of business and international inbound travel — not expected by some analysts to fully recover before 2024 — there remains “a tremendous amount of ground to make up , “US Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow said during a Wednesday media briefing.

Cumulative US spending losses from January 2020 through December 2021 were $ 730 billion, Dow said, adding that the organization projects 2022 domestic travel spending to reach 76 percent of 2019 levels, with international spending forecast to reach 72 percent. Further, the lag in return of business and international travel also puts “great pressure” on the return of travel jobs, he said.

The association pushed for several measures it said would spur travel recovery. One is for the US Congress to restore the Brand USA Act, which would protect federal funding for the national destination marketing organization and help boost international inbound travel, Dow said. “We’m also asking business leaders to take a hard look at the importance of business travel to productivity and success, as well as opportunities that comes from meeting face to face, getting deals done and the value employees place on being able to get together in person, “he added.

In addition, USTA is working to promote in Congress targeted temporary tax credits and deductions to stimulate spending on business travel, live entertainment and in-person business events, said USTA VP of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes.

“In the 2017 tax bill, there was an elimination of some of the deductibility, and that is what we are looking to reinstate,” Barnes said. “We also think we need to incentivize folks from a venue, event organizer and small business standpoint, so we’re looking to help cover the cost of running or participating in an in-person meeting or event that meets certain safety criteria.”

Additional focus areas include ensuring the federal government works swiftly toward the adoption of sustainable aviation fuel, and that the $ 7.5 billion in last year’s infrastructure bill for electric vehicle charging stations is deployed with the traveler “top of mind,” Barnes said, especially since most trips still are taken by car, and “we need to ensure we do not continue to have EV charging deserts throughout the country.”

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