‘Tis the time to give thanks in the USA and it appears sunny destinations both domestic and international are set to record growth on pre-pandemic US visitor numbers for the traditional exchange of turkey and well wishes. Travel analytics company ForwardKeys reveal the latest air ticketing data and trends placing Florida and El Salvador high on the travel agenda this Thanksgiving.

Domestic Thanksgiving travel up by 2% on pre-pandemic levels

This Thanksgiving, total domestic travel in the US is set to increase on 2019 levels, with tickets confirmed up to 9 November 2% above the same period two years ago. This increase demonstrates the strength of the domestic tourism market, which could still improve its results as last-minute bookings continue being a trend amongst travellers worldwide, particularly in the US.

Three of the top five most resilient USA cities show demand for sun, sea and adventure in Tampa, Fort Myers, and Miami. However, Austin tops the charts this Thanksgiving with a 35% increase compared to the same time in 2019. This Texan city of gastronomy and canals is the place to be this November.

The lure of El Salvador this Thanksgiving

A whopping 51% more US travellers are set to travel to El Salvador this Thanksgiving, making the Central America destination the top best performing global destination for US arrivals during Thanksgiving, followed by the US Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The lure of the azure sea, peace, and tranquillity is too hard to pass up.

“The image of El Salvador as a tourist destination has improved since President Nayib Bukele took the leadership, and the good management of the pandemic through correct measures and accelerated vaccination. In addition, with the implementation of the Surf City strategy, we highlight our world-class waves and we have become the first country to use bitcoin as a legal currency,” says Morena Valdez, Minister of Tourism of El Salvador.

Valdez added, “We will continue working with all key players to continue positioning El Salvador as an attractive and safe destination to visit, invest in and live in.”

Most of the travel from the United States to El Salvador is leisure (85%), with a slight increase in group travel (from 4.8% to 6%). The average length of stay is 15 days, and the average number of passengers per booking is 3 passengers – could this be small families?

International travel out of the US is just down by 20% this Thanksgiving and the fact that Portugal made the top 10 most resilient list, demonstrates that US travellers are starting to feel more confident about long-haul travel again. Something that will be music to the ears of many destinations reliant on the US travel market for its economy.

Take me to the US of A!

When examining the issued air tickets internationally for travelling to the USA, you will be surprised to hear which nation is topping the list of most resilient source markets – India. Indian travellers into the US this Thanksgiving period are set to increase by 48% on 2019 volumes. Since November 8 fully vaccinated Indians can travel to the USA, so how long will this pent-up demand last?

Ecuador was another pleasant surprise, up by 38%. Top US destinations with arrivals from Ecuador are Miami (35%; +65% vs 2019), New York (29%; +71%), and Fort Lauderdale (10%). 97% of the issued tickets are in economy cabins and mainly for leisure travel (85%) for 13 days on average.

Total Inbound USA travel is down by 37% and there are hopes it will pick up by the end of the year with more bookings from across the Atlantic and Australia.

It appears there are many things to give thanks for this year, including more relaxed travel conditions allowing us to take longer holidays and getting to see our loved ones.


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