The United States wants to bring back foreign tourists, banned for a year and a half because of COVID-19, and has presented a plan to attract them, aiming to welcome 90 million international travelers a year. Total spending by these visitors is estimated at $279 billion a year, the Commerce Department said in a statement.
In 2019, the last year before the pandemic, the United States welcomed 79 million foreign tourists, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization. “The impact of COVID-19 has impacted our national and local economies, but it has also presented us with a unique opportunity to shape a travel and tourism industry that is more inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient than ever before” , commented US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
Because the United States, which before the pandemic was the third most visited country in the world behind France and Spain, wants to attract international travelers to regions that do not benefit or little from the tourist windfall, and to green travel . “Our new strategy leverages the best of what America’s public and private sectors offer, which will promote jobs, recoup lost revenue, and inspire unforgettable experiences,” she added.
The American borders were closed to tourists between March 2020 and November 2021. These have started to return, but timidly, underlines the Department of Commerce. The number of international travelers has, admittedly, increased from just 775,000 people in October 2021, just before the reopening of borders, to two million in April 2022, which “has generated a trade surplus in each of the last five months” .
But the number of international travelers remains “lower than pre-pandemic levels”, when the country welcomed 6 to 7 million people per month on average. The drop in the number of visitors to the United States, due to COVID-19 and restrictions, both Americans and foreigners, accounted for more than half (56%) of the decline in gross domestic product in 2020, specifies the Department of Commerce. When non-US tourists spend their money in the US, those earnings are counted as US exports. Travel exports fell by 65% in 2020 compared to 2019.