It's certainly a challenge to 'crystal ball' the outlook for travel spending in New York State for the summer season of 2022. All other things being equal, we would anticipate a spectacular (need I say 'resurgent') travel market. But all other things are not equal.
On the upside, we've tracked robust recovery in travel spending vs pre-pandemic 2019 in the first quarter of 2022. The data provided by Tourism Economics on the U.S. Travel indicates that while our recovery was steady in 2021, tracking progressively from -65% in January 2021 to -33% in December compared to 2019, it lagged seriously behind recovery elsewhere in the United States. Since then, New York's recovery has closed the gap. In December of 2021, the 33%/$2.48 billion decline in NYS travel spending accounted for 63.9% of the national decline vs 2019. In March of 22, NYS travel spending had halved the gap vs 2019 to -16%/-$1.28 billion, or 23% of the national decline vs 2019. Pent up demand coupled with aggressive marketing appears to have accelerated our pace of recovery vs the national picture, but we still lag behind, as evidenced in the charts below from the U.S. Travel Recovery Dashboard. The data is sourced to Tourism Economics.
With the Canadian travel restrictions relaxing and the war in Ukraine's likely (negative) impact on American willingness to travel to Europe, there is cause for optimism for New York State's summer 2022 travel season.
Counterbalancing these favorable market factors are the economic impact of the war in Ukraine - dramatically higher inflation overall, 50% increases in the cost of gasoline and commensurate increases in airfare, and low double digit decreases in consumer IRA and 401 investments all negatively impact consumer interest /willingness to travel.
I remain optimistic for New York. I feel strongly that we have the advantage of offering attractive, affordable, 'nearby' travel opportunities to large consumer populations with a strong desire to travel (pent up demand). I believe that the increased outreach and promotion at all levels will win the day. I believe that we are nimble enough to adjust our positioning to address the concerns of the consumer, and that the consumer now, more than six months ago, needs 'travel therapy.'
- Bob Provost