WTM Research: Domestic tourism, main driver of travel in the Americas

The segment must end the year with values ​​31% higher than those obtained in 2019; Brazil must register 118% growth in domestic tourism

(Source: WTM Latin America)

exclusive compilation of international surveys that offers an in-depth analysis of the sector's performance in 2023 and a global view of the outlook for domestic and international tourism travel for the coming years.

Edited in collaboration with researchers from Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, and released during WTM London, held last week, the report uses an extensive data bank that covers nearly 185 countries to provide analysis both from the perspective of destinations tourist and source markets and reveal data related to flows of visits, nights and expenses. The document also considers the impacts of challenges such as inflation, reduction in the cost of living, strikes, personnel shortages and natural crises, among others, on activity.

The cut dedicated to the Americas shows the recovery of business by travel companies in the main markets, driven by the increase in domestic tourism. The report projects that the domestic segment on the American continent will end 2023 with values ​​31% higher than those obtained in 2019 and shows all countries with better results than those presented the last year before the start of the pandemic.

In the analysis by country for 2023, Brazil is in third position in domestic tourism and should maintain it in 2024. The forecast is to end this year with an increase of 118% over the results prior to the pandemic – behind Mexico, which should have an increase of 144%, and of the United States, with a projection of growing 130% in internal expenses. Another highlight is for Venezuela, the seventh domestic market in the region, but which should grow 325% nationally compared to 2019.

In relation to the reception of international travelers, meanwhile, projections show results below those presented before the pandemic, both in volumes and values ​​for all American markets. The expectation is that the region will receive 117 million tourism travelers in 2023, a number 4% lower than in 2019, with a drop in profits of 2%.

The report points out that inbound tourism from the United States, the largest market in the region, will present a 17% drop this year, but will recover in 2024, when it should be 8% higher than the result presented in 2019. Among the positive highlights, two countries appear with projections that place them in second and third place in the ranking of the Americas: Mexico, with the prospect of growing 128% in relation to 2019; and Canada, with a projection of increasing 107%.

Brazil should record a 112% increase in inbound, placing it in seventh position in 2023.

From fourth to sixth place are, respectively, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama. Bahamas, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico complete the top 10 of the largest tourism destination countries in the Americas. In the comparison between 2019 and 2024, the forecast is that Brazil will drop one position and Cuba will enter the list, in seventh place – the ranking remains unchanged from first to sixth place. Costa Rica appears in ninth place and Argentina appears in tenth.

The 70-page report also reveals that the number of tourism trips made in 2023 will be only 10% lower than the peak of 2019. Meanwhile, the value of these trips will close the year with positive numbers due to the increase in prices caused by a combination of rising fuel costs, personnel and financing for the aviation sector, among others. Still, consumers – especially those in more developed economies – have been prioritizing spending on leisure travel in the short term.

According to the study, “Increasing costs combined with potential changes in consumer outlooks pose a threat to the industry, but there are currently no clear signs that costs are an impediment to travel volumes.” The trend is that the search for tourism trips will be “robust” in 2024, with good performance of domestic tourism.

By 2033, the projection is that the United States will consolidate as the second largest leisure receptive market in the world, with results 82% higher than those projected for 2024. This places the country among the ten largest global markets, behind only China ( +158%), Thailand (+178%) and India (+133%). Mexico and Canada should register, respectively, increases of 80% and 71% in the arrival of international tourists in the next decade. Through 2033, global tourism travel spending is expected to more than double 2019 levels. 

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