The U.S. Travel Association commissioned a study that found the United States ranks 17th out of 18 travel markets in terms of global competitiveness, according to research executed by Euromonitor International.
Decades of underinvestment and a lack of focus and coordination from federal policymakers caused the U.S. to fall behind, while other countries actively apply robust strategies to increase travel and grow economic output, the study suggests.
The study gave the U.S. a 47% score, placing 17th out of 18 countries. Only China was worse.
Canada ranked fifth in the report with 59%. Finishing on top of the list was the UK (72%), followed by France, Turkey, Italy, Canada, UAE, Spain, Germany, Greece, and Thailand.
The U.S. also trailed Australia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Mexico, and Singapore.
Although the U.S. is still the third most visited country in the world, behind France and Spain, figures show it is only at 84% of pre-pandemic visitation levels, "which is far behind other competitors’ recovery rates."
"U.S. officials cannot ignore the bold, decisive steps other nations are taking to advance and modernize their travel economies. The United States should aspire to lead the way into a new era of seamless and secure travel and capitalize on the many opportunities to grow this critical sector," said Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
The U.S. ranked last in terms of government leadership on travel-related issues and the strength of its national travel strategy. Most top markets have a minister of tourism; the U.S. has an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism position, but the role has not yet been filled or fully funded by Congress. The U.S. has few specific federal policies and little funding to increase inbound visitation.
Other countries like Canada have robust national strategies to boost travel spending, improve visitor experiences and highlight lesser-known destinations through key partnerships.
The U.S. scored highly in the travel promotion category thanks in part to the effectiveness of Brand USA and emergency funding provided by Congress in 2022.