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Low Unemployment Rates Boosted Travel for Americans in 2018

Low Unemployment Rates Boosted Travel for Americans in 2018
Scott Dylan

You’re not alone if you have a passion for traveling. Last year was a huge year for international travel. The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office just revealed that a record 93 million Americans traveled abroad during 2018. That number is up 6% from the year before. It turns out that Americans are seeing the bright economy as a reason to take a holiday to a foreign country.

Where did millions of Americans go last year?

We know that 41.8 million flew to overseas destinations. That represents about 45 of all Americans who traveled abroad for the year. Huge gains were made in the number of Americans going to Europe. In fact, the number of Americans who traveled to destinations in Europe in 2018 was up 12% from 2017. That number does represent travelers who happened to be going through Europe on the way to other destinations. Americans also started traveling to spots throughout Asia, South America and Oceania in bigger numbers in 2018. More than 51 million Americans headed to Mexico and Canada last year via car or plane. That’s an increase of 4% from 2017. That may come as a surprise if you’ve been keeping up with the news regarding the tourism crisis that Mexico is experiencing at the moment. Increasing crime rates and recent travel warnings from the State Department have both hurt Mexico’s popular resort areas. What’s more, the Mexican government has essentially dissolved the county’s tourism bureau.

Why was 2018 such a big year for travel for Americans?

A number of factors are behind the big increase in travel. Tax reform measures in the United States have helped to keep more money in the pockets of many individuals and businesses. It looks like some people are finally starting to take vacations after years of stagnant tourism numbers. In addition, the unemployment rate is decreasing year over year (4.3% in 2017; 4% in 2018) and wage growth are causing more people to book vacations. An overall increase in consumer confidence is always good news for tourism.

Americans who decide to travel right now are getting an added bonus that is making their travel dollars do more. The dollar is quite strong right now compared to the currencies in many popular destinations around the world. That includes the United Kingdom and many European countries. In addition, the dollar is also powerful for Americans heading to Canada and Mexico.

Will 2019 prove to be an even bigger year for international travel among Americans?

This summer will determine whether or not that’s the case.

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

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