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The booming impact of domestic tourism in the US

Article-The booming impact of domestic tourism in the US

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From experiential travel to medical tourism and healthtech, how businesses can adapt to the ever-changing landscape of tourism trends.

Domestic tourism significantly drives the economy in the United States, contributing to the hospitality, transport, F&B, and entertainment sectors. According to the US State Department, only 37 per cent of the population holds a valid passport and Americans who choose to travel within the country's borders significantly boost the economy as revenue circulates within local communities.  

In 2020, domestic tourism was valued at US$1,226.1 billion and is projected to reach US$6,736.1 billion by 2030, according to Allied Market Research. However, during the summer of 2023, several tourism operators noted that domestic tourism demand had softened, as the world dealt with pent-up demand from the COVID-19 pandemic. Between January and May 2023, 36 million Americans travelled abroad, up 35 per cent from the same period last year, according to the US National Travel and Tourism Office. 

Yves Marceau, Vice President of Product for G Adventures, said tour operators had noticed a decline in domestic travel demand, with many travellers expressing a preference for international destinations this year, as reported by He added: “What we are hearing from our teams is that people are saying ‘I am going to go international this year.’” This shift resulted in decreased numbers in domestic travel, as observed across destinations such as Yellowstone, Jackson and San Francisco. 

RelatedTop factors that drive destination diversity in medical tourism

Despite this rise in international travel, a report by IBIS World revealed the total number of domestic trips undertaken by US residents in 2023, totalled 794 million. This figure reflects a steady growth rate of 0.3 per cent from 2018 to 2023.  

Popular domestic travel segments include leisure and business travel — it is predicted there will be over two billion combined trips by 2024, plus camping and national holiday travel which are hugely popular. Despite a dip due to COVID-19, in 2020, travel around the Thanksgiving holiday alone exceeded 50 million.  

The rise of experiential travel  

Travel preferences are changing as domestic tourists look to go beyond the typical beach holidays and tourist hotspots. Sustainable and eco-friendly travel has seen a rise and AI-powered apps are simplifying the travel planning process. The Roam Around platform generates tailored itineraries in seconds and with over four million itineraries already generated, this is one of the largest and smartest AI travel planners on the market. Smart tech isn't just transforming travel, it is reshaping how travellers explore, with each interaction designed for ease and satisfaction. Travel companions like this have the power to enhance experiences and make every adventure extraordinary. These trends showcase the shift that domestic travel is making towards more authentic, mindful and tech-enhanced travel experiences. 

Medical tourism, AI and healthtech advancements 

The US has seen an uptick in inbound, outbound and domestic medical tourists. With over 6,000 hospitals, extensive healthcare options attract those looking for specialised cancer and cardiology procedures among others. States including Florida, California and New York have emerged as hotspots for this medical tourism trend. Renowned for cutting-edge medical facilities, they have attracted a steady influx of medical tourists. As a result, cash flows in the form of transport, F&B and even extended holidays after the recovery period, are driving economic growth.  

In 2023, AI in the healthcare market is projected to exceed US$20 million, revolutionising drug discovery, disease detection, and treatment. AI can predict trial outcomes and drug side effects, analyse medical images, detect diseases in X-rays or MRI scans, and help to diagnose and treat disorders from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's. Healthtech is also on the rise in the form of wearable devices. Fitness bands provide easy monitoring of heart rates, sleep, step counts and even blood glucose levels. These metrics encourage goal setting and more open discussions with healthcare professionals. Some health insurers in the US have even incentivised wearables, such as UnitedHealthcare's Motion programme where people can earn money for out-of-pocket medical expenses, simply by moving more. 

Related: Medical travel: the latest trends and hotspots revealed

Looking ahead, it is important for business leaders to leverage technology and explore how it can be used to enhance the experiences and streamline operations. Investments could be considered in online booking systems, mobile apps, and virtual tours to meet today’s digital demands. To navigate the future successfully, business leaders should embrace health and safety through rigorous cleanliness standards, implement contactless procedures and ensure a diverse offering including wellness-themed services to capture the growing segment of health-conscious travellers. Keeping up to date with evolving tourism trends, understanding the demand for sustainable travel, and introducing innovative new concepts like remote “work-cations” is also important. Businesses should be agile, remain flexible, and consider strategies such as dynamic pricing to meet ever-changing demands.  

Keeping the customer at the heart of every decision, actively seeking feedback, listening to reviews and using data-driven insights are essential practices to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the travel industry. 


This article appears in the latest issue of the Omnia Health Magazine, read more here

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