US Tourism Recovery Is In Full Swing One Year After The Border Was Reopened
One year after the border was reopened, the US tourism recovery is in full swing. On November 8, the United States officially opened its borders to foreign travelers. According to Brand USA CEO Christopher Thompson, the overall story is really positive one year later.
Through marketing and promotional efforts, Brand USA, a public-private partnership, aims to increase international travel to the United States. He claimed that the improvement in foreign visitor numbers is outpacing predictions.
Interviews with Thompson and the executives of three major DMOs revealed an upbeat outlook for the future, but one that will need a lot of work to ensure that tourists from around the world maintain their steadfast interest in visiting the United States in the face of external challenges like the strong dollar.
According to Thompson, there were 80 million foreign visitors to the United States in 2019—half of whom came from Mexico and Canada, which will continue to be the two biggest source markets.
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According to Thompson, despite economic uncertainty, the United Kingdom and Europe, the next two most significant sources of travelers, appear to be in good shape.
The forecast made at the Travel Week U.K. and Europe marketplace event Brand USA recently held in Frankfurt, which included meetings with the travel industry and media, was that the numbers would surpass those of 2019.
That proved how strong the recovery has been and how resilient travel is, according to Thompson. He described the excitement at Travel Week in Europe as "palpable" and unlike anything he had ever witnessed.
The Ukraine war, currency fluctuations, inflation, and workforce issues are just a few of the challenges that the tourism industry is facing, according to Thompson. He asserted that the United States "is one of the most aspirational destinations in the world," which negates all of that.
Demand, according to him, is not a problem because the industry is witnessing a faster-than-anticipated return of travelers. Initially, it was anticipated that it would take until 2025 before reaching 2019 levels, but now, he believes it might happen as early as 2023.
According to Thompson, the U.S. has to offer because of its diversity in geography, experiences, and the people who provide those experiences to tourists. In addition to making travel "necessary," he claimed that this appeal allows them to spread their wings and provide growth opportunities to many places within the U.S.
Throughout the pandemic, Brand USA has been preparing for this upsurge, according to Thompson.
He claimed that the organization was prepared to move forward with a three-pronged strategy as soon as the border opened and flights resumed. Prove they are ready, welcome the world back and entice and convert working through travel trade partners to move customers from inspiration to consideration to booking.
Brand USA is currently working on a number of initiatives, according to Thompson. One was a recent familiarization tour by influential people visiting the United States to confirm that the nation is welcoming and open to all.
That added to the ongoing United Stories campaign, which travels the nation visiting hidden gems, cultural hotspots, attractions, events, and points of interest through the eyes of influencers, storytellers, and locals.
Additionally, Brand USA has expanded the amount of content available on its GoUSA TV channel and increased distribution. It was the nation's first DMO to launch a connected TV channel.
With its original and carefully curated content, documentaries and movies about places and experiences in the United States, it draws viewers from all over the world and is free and subscription-free.
The travel industry is essential to all of this, according to Thompson, who also announced plans for a "mega-familiarization tour" with 60 U.K. travel industry professionals visiting the U.S. to go out and validate that what everyone has been dreaming about is here, Thompson said.
Within four or five hours of all major U.S. gateways are wonderful places to visit, including the outdoors and rural areas, said Thompson. Brand USA works with local, state, and regional DMOs to create a "co-op marketing machine" that helps travelers reach the travel trade.
Brand USA Global Marketplace, a digital meeting and connection space created in response to the pandemic, continues to serve the industry well, providing access to the travel trade in parts of the world where it may be difficult to appear in person.
Brand USA launched phase two of Global Marketplace: the International Pavilion, which includes market profiles, research, programming, and a key contacts directory for the travel trade, media, and more. It's designed to help U.S. partners market internationally.
Brand USA's podcast, "Brand USA Talks Travel," features interviews with industry leaders. Through this podcast, Brand USA shares information, campaigns, and storytelling efforts.
Brand USA's travel trade engagement strategies involve working with international teams in 10 market regions to provide the content, resources, and partnerships needed to drive U.S. tourism.
Brand USA's Travel Trade website, the USA Discovery Program, virtual educational webinars and in-person agent trainings, and product and itinerary development programs are effective tools.
Local and regional DMOs are active in luring international visitors, both for their own destinations and to get travelers to the United States, while Brand USA coordinates initiatives on a national level.