Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: What is the loss of visitors?
When hurricane Harvey hit Houston and hurricane Irma ravaged Miami, they both caused the airports to be closed, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of people. It was only a matter of days before the airports reopened but the negative impact on international visitors to those two destinations has lasted for weeks. The analysis has come from ForwardKeys, the company which helps forecast future travel by analysing around 17 million flight booking transactions a day.
In the case of Houston, international arrivals fell 56.9% during the hurricane impact period (25-31 August) and it was six weeks until visitor arrivals returned to pre-hurricane levels. In the case of Miami, international arrivals fell 36.7% during the hurricane impact period (7-17 September) and it was nine weeks until visitor arrivals returned to pre-hurricane levels.
The negative impact on their respective states, Texas and Florida was similar but not quite so pronounced, with international arrivals during the hurricane impact period down 23.4% in Texas and down 31.9% in Florida. Looking at the ten-week period following the hurricanes, both Houston and Miami suffered a double-digit decline in international visitors, with Houston down 11.6% and Miami 12.8%.
In Texas, Dallas and Austin actually benefited when Houston limited its airport operations. During the hurricane impact period, international arrivals in Dallas jumped 13.3 % and in Austin 23.1%. However, in the aftermath, travel to all three Texas airports has fallen below pre-hurricane levels.
Olivier Jager, CEO, Forward Keys, said: “One would not expect the travel disruption caused by even a very bad storm, to a major first-world city, to last more than a few days. So, when you see the impact of these hurricanes on international visitor arrivals, enduring for several weeks, it underlines the severity of the damage they caused.”