Americans Traveling Abroad in February Reached Close to Pre-Pandemic Level


Skift Take

U.S. destinations are facing stronger competition for domestic travelers.

Dawit Habtemariam

In February, Americans were close to traveling internationally as much as they did in 2019, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data. About 6.2 million Americans departed for international trips – that’s 97 percent of February 2019’s level and 46 percent above last February.  

Americans also spent a massive amount internationally in February. Total spending abroad totaled $17.4 billion, a record for the U.S., the National Travel and Tourism Office reported in April. 

Since the end of international travel restrictions last year, Americans have rushed to travel and spend internationally. European destinations like Paris and London have cited Americans as strong contributors to their recoveries.

In February, more people traveled out of the U.S. than in. The U.S. welcomed 4.1 million international visitors in February, up 83 percent from the same month last year. Still, that’s 81 percent of the level in February 2019. 

More money also flowed out than in when it came to travel that month. International visitor spending was $9.5 billion in February. That’s much lower than the $17.4 billion Americans spent, giving the U.S. a travel trade deficit of more than $480 million, a record for the U.S.

The U.S. Travel Association has repeatedly attributed the U.S.’s high first-time visa wait times for India, Brazil, Mexico and other several countries as a contributing factor to travel trade deficit and slow return of to inbound visitation pre-pandemic levels. The State Department has implemented several initiatives to reduce the wait times.

Total international visitors with a visa for “pleasure,” i.e. tourism, was 1.5 million in February, up from 900,000 for the same month last year.

The countries that gave the U.S. the most travelers were the UK, South Korea, France, Brazil and Germany. European visitors made up the largest international segment by region. Over 1.4 million visitors came from Europe in February. 

Americans Traveling Abroad in February Reached Close to Pre-Pandemic Level

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