The future looks bright for U.S. tourism

The future looks bright for U.S. tourism

The U.S. is on course to reach its target of 90 million visitors and spending of $279 billion by 2027, visitors to IPW in Los Angeles were told.

The country attracted 67 million visitors in 2023 but over the next four years expects a rush of visitors arriving for major events that will culminate in the Olympic Games in 2028, which will be held in Los Angeles.  

Other events include the FIFA World Cup in 2026 – the U.S. will stage games in 11 cities – and America’s 250th Independence celebrations, which will take place in several states, also in 2026.

Speaking at the USA’s largest travel trade show, outgoing Brand USA CEO Chris Thompson praised the USA’s “strong travel industry” and said the vital signs for U.S. tourism are good with visitor numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels.

Last year total inbound visitation to the U.S. remained at 84% of 2019 levels: in that year the U.S. welcomed 79 million visitors while by the end of 2023 the number was 67 million. 

However, Thompson said the latest forecast by Tourism Economics shows that nearly 78 million visitors are expected to visit by the end of 2024, with “spending” growing by 74% between 2023 and 2027. 

The number of UK visitors will surpass 2019 visitation levels in 2025, he predicted.

Thompson said the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 250th anniversary of Independence celebrations represents “a huge opportunity to not only welcome visitors but to get them out to places around the country they might not otherwise consider”.

The 11 cities hosting FIFA World Cup games are: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco/Bay Area and Seattle. 

Describing the U.S. as “the most aspirational travel destination in the world, Thompson added: “You don’t take a trip to the USA, it takes you”.

He announced that Brand USA mega-fams for the trade were at the planning stage.

IPW in Los Angeles was one of the largest yet, with more than 5,700 delegates including 2,000 buyers and media from 70 countries, meeting destinations and suppliers of tourism products – that is around 15% higher than in 2019, the pre-pandemic benchmark for such comparative measures, and 30% higher than 10 years ago. 

The show saw 100,000 scheduled business appointments take place over three days.

The Visit USA Association held its IPW Brits and Irish Party on the Rooftop Terrace of Grammy Museum L.A. Live, attracting around 200 attendees.

The 56th IPW will be held in Chicago from June 14-18, 2025.

“IPW provides an unmatched platform to showcase Chicago’s rich tapestry of cultural, culinary, and architectural offerings to a global audience,” said Rich Gamble, Interim President and CEO at Choose Chicago.

Choose Chicago held a future host city press conference on the theme “Welcome to Our House” in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the birth of house music in Chicago.

This culminated in a live house-meets-blues performance featuring house music DJs Lori Branch and Chip E. and blues musicians Billy Branch and Wayne Baker Brooks.

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