Talk about the "Road Less Traveled". With the dollar at all-time lows against major currencies and the continued rise of crude oil prices, many Americans may be rethinking the summer vacations they have been planning. Domestically, we are only two months away from the start of the summer driving season where rising gasoline prices will take its toll. The weak dollar makes international travels much more costly too. As Maria Bartiromo pointed out this morning on Squawk Box, groceries alone cost 25% more in London than they do in New York.
Offsetting this, of course, will be foreigners choosing to visit the USA at what they see to be bargain basement prices. According to the US Department of Commerce, 2007 set an all time record for international visitors. A record of 56.7 million international visitors traveled to the United States in 2007, an increase of 11% over 2006. International visitors also spent a record breaking $122 billion on travel and tourist related activities within the US.
Top countries with international visitors traveling to the United States in 2007 were:
Canada - 17,735,000
Mexico – 15,089,00
United Kingdom – 4,497,858
Japan – 3,531,489
Germany – 1,524,151
France – 997,506
South Korea – 806,175
Australia – 669,536
Brazil – 639,431
Italy – 634,152
While we welcome our foreign guests, the markets are not sure that the inflow will offset American declines in travel. In the last month and as oil prices shattered records, the Dow Jones Travel & Tourism Index turned negative.
April Crude Futures have been rising steadily, closing at new record highs since March 10, and setting a new intraday high on Thursday at $111 per barrel. According to AAA and the Oil Price Information Services, the national average price of unleaded gasoline is $3.25 / gallon as of Wednesday. Therefore the American vacationer may have to consider the distance traveled this summer and their perfect vacation may be traded for one that has the lesser impact on their wallet.
Here are some companies that might be be affected by these trends.