Similar to many other countries around the world, the U.S. travel industry came to a screeching halt with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some domestic destinations rebounded more quickly than others, it seems that the entire country is finally emerging from the impacts of travel restrictions. As of June 2022, international travelers no longer need to take a COVID test to enter the country, which has fueled even more interest in tourism in the U.S.

The U.S. tourism market is heavily influenced, not only by domestic travelers but also by international visitors from abroad. Domestic travel in the United States has remained strong — and even despite a lagging economy and rising inflation, a recent survey by Longwoods found that nine out of 10 Americans plan to take a vacation within the next six months. In addition, international tourists will be arriving by the millions. In 2019, more than 20 million Canadians visited the U.S., and travel insiders anticipate that the number of travelers in 2023 could exceed pre-pandemic levels.

A recent American Express Travel survey revealed that almost 50% of respondents were planning their summer 2023 trips, so now is the best time for tour and activity operators in the U.S. to start preparing. Travel is back — and in a big way.

Current challenges for the tourism industry in the U.S.

While the tourism industry in the U.S. is poised for a big comeback in 2023, there are still some challenges.

For example, the United States recently began requiring pre-arrival testing for all travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. At this time, Chinese inbound travelers are the 5th largest tourism group in the U.S., and these requirements may prevent Chinese travelers from choosing the U.S. as their next travel destination. Considering the fact that Chinese tourists plan extended trips — often spanning more than 18 days — and spend upwards of $7,000 per trip, it would be a large loss to the U.S. travel industry if fewer travelers from China arrive this year.

challenges the tourism industry in the u.s. are facing

In addition, the international visitor vaccine mandate for the U.S. has been extended, once again, until at least April 10, 2023. Further extensions to this mandate are possible, and in an era when fewer people are motivated to get vaccinated, this also could have a detrimental impact on travel as a whole.

How the economy is impacting the U.S. tourism industry

The obvious signs of inflation in the U.S. are hard to miss, with the price of groceries skyrocketing on a weekly basis and the cost of living increasing significantly. However, despite the fact that consumers are spending more of their income on the bare necessities, they still seem to want to take their trips this year. The U.S. Travel Foundation predicts that travel spending will increase in 2023 compared to 2022 — in fact, they anticipate that spending will exceed pre-pandemic levels.

tour pricing

These motivated travelers are ready to get to a new destination, and they aren’t going to be afraid to spend money once they arrive. In fact, according to Statista, the travel and tourism sector in the U.S. could reach more than $190 billion in 2023 alone, highlighting an annual growth rate of more than 3%. All in all, the travel industry is poised to have a strong year in the U.S., despite economic concerns.

Trending U.S. tourism topics: what U.S. travelers are talking about

Within the U.S. tourism sector, these are the trending topics that are shaping the industry this year:

Authentic experiences

U.S. travelers are craving immersive, local experiences when they arrive at their chosen destination. According to Forbes, 90% of GetYourGuide survey respondents stated that they wanted to live like a local during their next vacation by trying activities that are unique to that area.

Off-season travel

low-season travel period

The off-season is typically the slow season in the U.S., but more travelers are opting to visit their favorite destinations during this time. They have found that it’s a great way to save money, avoid crowds and enjoy that authentic atmosphere. However, this trend could end up reversing the travel season, resulting in more crowds during the typically slow times of the year.

6 tools U.S. tour operators can use to take advantage of industry growth

The peak travel season in the U.S. is just around the corner, and now is the best time to start preparing. These six tools will help you gear up for a record-setting year at your tour and activity company.

1. Automate your administrative tasks

Gone are the days when you had to spend hours at your desk manually responding to booking requests and generating your own reports. With the right online booking solution and property management system in place, you can automate those pesky, repetitive tasks, such as:

  • Real-time availability viewer –  With this feature, your availability will be automatically updated and reflected on your website and across all distribution channels, minimizing the risk of booking errors such as overbooking and double booking
  • Automatic manifest updates –  Booking changes and even cancellations are inevitable. As you process new bookings and updates, your resources will be allocated accordingly. With this feature, you can be confident knowing that you and your team are on top of everything you need for your next tour experience
  • Automatic communication – Communicate instantly with your customers through automatic messaging. Travelers who are booking tours and activities online want to receive instant confirmation of their booking. In addition to sending automatic confirmation e-mails, you can send reminders and prepare your customers for their upcoming experience
  • Reporting tools – Process intuitive reports that provide the data you need to make the best business decisions for your brand

2. Provide a secure payment processing solution

As a tour and activity business attempting to appeal to a broad range of customers, it’s important that you are able to accept and process secure online payments — including mobile payments. Integrating your system with a payment gateway such as RezdyPay will give you the ability to accept digital payments like mobile wallets. Payment gateways offer a single, integrated payment solution that includes security and fraud protection.

A recent report by Shopify states that brands that offer secure mobile payment options can see their conversions increase by more than 250%, proving that this is a worthwhile investment for your business.

Want to learn more about the payment gateways for tour and activity businesses? Check out this video:

3. Increase your flexibility with an online booking system

Travelers in today’s competitive market expect that businesses will be willing to cater to their specific needs. While flexibility can be difficult for tour and activity operators, it’s far more attainable when you have the right online booking system in place. With an intuitive online booking solution that offers real-time availability, you can create customized experiences, such as group tours or VIP packages. In addition, you can allow last-minute bookings, which can capture those travelers who have already arrived at your destination.

4. Build brand loyalty through promotions and rewards

When you focus on building brand loyalty within your tour and activity company, you will see steady, long-term growth of return and referred customers. One way to achieve brand loyalty is by making your customers feel special. This can be achieved by offering both discounts and rewards, which is why loyalty programs work so well.

You may consider offering repeat customers a discount on their second booking or access to an exclusive promo code on a special day like their birthday. You also may want to offer gift cards to those who book with you, allowing them to embark on a second tour or treat a favorite friend to the same experience that they enjoyed.

All these strategies offer exclusive perks to being a customer of your tour and activity business, which entices customers to further promote your brand.

5. Develop strategic partnerships with local businesses

You might be surprised to find out that 48% of all bookings are made after a traveler arrives at their destination. This leaves so much room for opportunity to capture bookings from curious travelers looking for the best things to do once they arrive.

With so much untapped potential in your local area, the best thing you can do is to develop strategic partnerships with other complimenting local businesses. By collaborating with other businesses such as local hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, and even other tour operators, you can increase your bookings significantly.

This process is dubbed as in-destination, which is when other local businesses collaborate by referring their customers to their partners. Thus, increase sales for all parties involved.

6. Broaden your distribution channels

We all know that the key to increasing your reach across the globe is by broadening your distribution channels. A channel manager, such as Rezdy Channel Manager, is the easiest way to get started on your distribution journey.

Rezdy Channel Manager gives you access to over 25,000 active resellers, including the biggest Online Travel Agents (OTAs), all the way to your local travel agents. Furthermore, Rezdy Channel Manager allows you to broadcast your live rates and availability to your resellers, thus, automating the entire reselling process.

Book a demo with us to find out how you can broaden your distribution channels with Rezdy Channel Manager, regardless of your booking software.


Optimism has always been a part of the American persona, and U.S. travelers have always had a way of putting their best foot forward. Despite some of the economic woes that the country is facing, the tourism industry in U.S. is poised to have an exceptional year. Americans are still making up for lost time and missed opportunities during the pandemic, and they are ready to start exploring again.

Celebrate the return of travel and tourism in the U.S., and start preparing your tour and activity company for a thrilling travel season. Get ahead of the game by starting a FREE 21-day trial or booking a demo with Rezdy today.

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