US holidaymakers return to Latin America

Almost 90% of destinations in the Americas see increases in arrivals Holiday destinations for the US will welcome Americans back this summer with rising numbers of Americans travelling to Latin America, according to recent…

US holidaymakers return to Latin America

Almost 90% of destinations in the Americas see increases in arrivals

Holiday destinations for the US will welcome Americans back this summer with rising numbers of Americans travelling to Latin America, according to recent data.

Almost 90% of destinations in the Americas, from Mexico and Chile to Argentina and Costa Rica, saw increases in arrivals during the spring months last year – the highest numbers on record.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, saw the largest gain at 19.8%, followed by Colorado, California and San Antonio. Of the top 20 destinations on this list, 16 showed gains in visitor numbers.

The big question is, can the same volume of spending from tourists rebound?

The overall $9.2bn spent by American travellers to Latin America was just under a tenth of the $240bn spent by tourists in all of the Americas.

The $13.8bn from the Americas generated by tourism was seen as “unofficial investment”, much of it spent directly, and by professionals such as doctors, consultants and lawyers, with many of the dollars spent in cities such as Miami, San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Major retailers expect a rebound in US sales this year as they welcome back tourists after a drop of more than $100bn.

Sales at department stores fell by 8.1% in 2016 compared with a year earlier. The slump is part of a wider global decline in retail sales, which has been led by a drop in China and the US.

The Commerce Department expects the world’s two largest economies to register 0.1% growth in 2018, the slowest in nearly 20 years.

Jonathan Gold, a retail analyst at the brokerage firm Loop Capital Markets, has said many shoppers are turning to the internet for purchases.

“Our analysis shows that in most cases that means people are shopping at home, but they’re doing so more from their couches,” he said.

“So these are people that are consuming, but they don’t need to go down to the mall. And by the way, they don’t have to go to all the way to the mall. In the process of having something shipped out, they’re getting it cheaper. It’s not costing as much as it used to. When they shop, they want the convenience, they want the ease and they want the cost savings.”

One positive, analysts say, is that spending does not appear to have been split between luxury retailers, such as Tiffany & Co, and struggling sales at department stores.

They may be better off buying a $500 cashmere sweater online or a $500 set of golf clubs. This could be good news for manufacturers and retailers such as Levi Strauss & Co and Michael Kors Holdings.

Also, expect consumer spending to rise as income rises.

“We are seeing consumers at a point in their spending pattern where they are confident enough in their economic future to spend and invest,” said Bert Ely, a consultant in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“It’s very similar to what we saw in 2011, when our economy started to recover. People had to retool their spending to reflect the start of a recovery, and now that we are seeing wage growth and a declining unemployment rate, people are spending and have plenty of disposable income,” he said.

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