Foreign Tourists’ Return Poised to Bolster U.S. Holiday Sales
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. retailers will get a welcome boost at the end of the year as the country loosens its travel restrictions for foreigners on Nov. 8.
Their return, under new travel guidelines announced earlier this week, should add billions of dollars in sales for retailers in 2021 versus the previous year. Historically, tourists have been an important source of revenue, especially for luxury companies such as LVMH’s Tiffany & Co. and Coach parent Tapestry Inc.
International travelers will likely “give a jolt” to retail sales, according to Matthew Shay, head of the National Retail Federation, during comments this week about his group’s holiday sales forecast.
For context, nearly 80 million foreign travelers visited the U.S. in 2019, generating about $179 billion in revenue on goods and services, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Last year, amid pandemic travel restrictions, that amount dropped to $38.1 billion.
New York is getting ready for the influx. This year, the city is expecting 36.1 million visitors from abroad and other parts of the U.S. as Broadway shows and other large-scale events reopen, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism arm. That compares to 66.6 million visitors in 2019 and 22.3 million in 2020. To target foreign tourists, New York is spending $6 million in ads in countries including Canada, Mexico, Brazil and the U.K. in a marketing campaign.
Foreign tourists’ return represents “a very positive step forward and we are eager to reclaim our fair share of the international travel pie,” said Chris Heywood, NYC & Co.’s executive vice president of global communications. He added that these visitors “tend to stay longer and spend more.”
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