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U.S. Travel Ranking Drops, New Study Places Country Near Bottom

(Last Updated On: March 23, 2024)

According to a new study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, the United States, once a leader in global tourism, has fallen behind many other countries in attracting international visitors. The report, conducted by Euromonitor International, painted a rather concerning picture. The U.S. ranks 17 out of 18 top travel destinations in terms of global competitiveness.

Decades of Underinvestment Take a Toll

The study attributes this decline to decades of underinvestment in the travel sector and a lack of a focused national travel strategy.  The U.S. is still a desirable destination for many travelers. However, other countries have robust strategies to improve visitor experiences and streamline travel processes put in place and used. Their proactive approach has resulted in the U.S. losing ground to competitors like Spain and France regarding total visitation.

Key Areas for Improvement

The study identified four key areas where the U.S. travel sector needs improvement: national leadership, brand and product, identity, security and facilitation, and travel and connectivity. The U.S. scored poorly in national leadership, identity, security, and facilitation.

National Leadership: Unlike many other leading travel destinations, the U.S. lacks a dedicated tourism minister. Additionally, there’s a dearth of specific federal policies and funding allocated to boosting inbound tourism.

Identity, Security & Facilitation: Excessive visa interview wait times, a limited visa-free travel program, and outdated security screening processes significantly hinder the U.S.’s competitiveness. Biometric screening technology, seen as a way to improve efficiency, is underutilized compared to other countries.

While the U.S. boasts a strong global air connectivity network, shortcomings in other areas negatively affect the overall travel experience.

The Economic Impact of Falling Behind

Dismissing these issues has significant consequences. A related analysis by Tourism Economics estimated that inefficiencies in the travel system cost the U.S. billions of dollars annually. For example, visa wait times alone could result in a loss of 39 million visitors and $150 billion in spending over the next decade.

A Path Forward: The Seamless and Secure Travel Commission

The U.S. Travel Association remains optimistic. In conjunction with the study’s release, they launched the Seamless and Secure Travel Commission, a group of experts tasked with developing a plan to modernize the travel experience and enhance U.S. competitiveness.  The commission, led by former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, is expected to deliver policy recommendations later this year.

The U.S. Travel Association emphasizes the urgency of addressing these challenges. Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, states, “The U.S. can no longer sit out of the race to modernize travel… It is time the U.S. government collectively gets serious about establishing a metrics-based plan to claim our spot as the top destination in the world.”

The U.S. could potentially regain its former position as a worldwide tourism leader by acting on the commission’s recommendations and prioritizing investment in the travel sector.

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The post U.S. Travel Ranking Drops, New Study Places Country Near Bottom republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / TZIDO SUN.

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