Overseas travel is looking like another casualty of the hard economic times.
The Travel Industry Association expects 25.5 million overseas travelers to visit the United States next year, a 3 percent decline from this year. The number of visitors coming into the country had grown in the past two years mainly because of the weakened dollar. But that traffic could dry up as the dollar strengthens and recession takes hold in economies around the world, the association says.
Troubles from a prolonged downturn could ripple through the U.S. economy as travel-shy globe-trotters shun hotels, rental cars, cruise ships, even restaurants. Struggling airlines could also further reduce capacity -- cutting flights, grounding airplanes -- which could put more pressure on jobs.
The slowdown is bad news for U.S. airlines. Large U.S. carriers have been dismantling domestic hubs and cutting flights to small cities while at the same time expanding internationally -- pinning their hopes on deep-pocketed business travelers. Airlines, including United, Continental and Delta, raced to add nonstop overseas flights, offering Americans quick access to distant parts of the world.