US Travel Association predicts $1 trillion spend on travel, appoints new CEO

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The U.S. Travel Association has a new leader just in time for the rebound in travel post-coronavirus. The lobbying firm that represents airlines, airports, hotels, theme parks and tourism groups announced it has appointed Geoff Freeman as its next CEO and president.

On Sept. 1, Geoff Freeman will rejoin the company after nearly a decade of leadership stints at other Washington, D.C.-based trade groups, including the American Gaming Association and the Consumer Brands Association, where he works currently.

“I am eager to get to work on behalf of this incredible industry, which has long held a special place for me,” Freeman said in a statement. “There are few industries more essential to the nation’s economy, more connected to consumers and more critical to bringing Americans together than the travel industry. I believe U.S. Travel’s talented team can continue to raise the bar, and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get started.”

It comes as the current domestic travel surge has contributed to flight delays and cancelations as well as rising airfare and hotel prices; U.S. travel industry experts predict this trend to continue, fueled by pent-up demand to resume regular travel.

Findings from a 2022 travel forecast report predict travelers will spend more than $1 trillion on domestic and international travel this year, according to data collected by the U.S. Travel Association

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Although the association estimates an uptick in domestic travel for the remainder of the year, forecasted spending remains lower than it was 2019, when travelers spent $1.17 trillion in total travel spending.

Of the $1.05 trillion the report expects travelers to cumulatively spend this year, approximately $941 billion will be used for domestic trips; the remaining $109 billion will be used for international travel.

As countries lift strict entry requirements, companies have gradually begun to send employees on business trips; the U.S. Travel Association estimates $222 billion will be spent on business travel and the rest ($827 billion) on leisure travel.

Since the U.S. government dropped its predeparture COVID-19 testing requirement earlier this month, the travel association expects to see an 18% increase in travelers to the U.S., to the tune of 5.4 million visitors.

Read more: Your flight is canceled or delayed – here’s what you should do next

The incoming CEO is known for helping to craft the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 — the law that established the Corporation for Travel Promotion as a nonprofit tasked with promoting U.S. travel eligible for funding by the U.S. government. He also helped bring TSA PreCheck, the expedited security program, to life.

Despite the predicted upswing in travel, the travel association says  2023 will be “the year” when we see a marked effort towards pre-pandemic travel recovery.

“2023 is going to be the year,” Roger Dow, the current president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said earlier this month. “Travel will be back and better than ever.”

Featured photo by Grant Faint/Getty Images.

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