ITA - Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
Supplemental Airport Survey Program

The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) conducts the monthly Survey of International Air Travelers that collects data on passengers departing from U.S. international gateway airports. The survey instrument is a self-administered questionnaire which can be used by either of the two target populations: 1) non-resident visitors to the U.S. from overseas or 2) U.S. travelers going abroad.

There are also two data collection methods. The legacy method involves the direct participation of the airlines, which arrange for their flight crews to distribute and collect surveys on-board. Also, we use sub-contractors or local partners to distribute and collect the questionnaires in the airport departure gate area (“airport intercept”). The airport-intercept method accounted for 60% of all collections, in 2009, while the in-flight method accounted for 40%. NTTO annual funding for 2010 supports the collection and processing of approximately 72,640 passenger surveys. However, it is also our goal to ensure that the number of surveys collected at each airport properly represent the departure traffic levels.

Due to the logistical challenges in administering the survey, certain airlines and airports are not able to produce completed surveys in proportion to their traffic numbers. The aim of this program is to develop a public/private partnership to survey additional international flights on a monthly basis to improve airport specific and destination collections.

Currently, NTTO is orchestrating this effort in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Dallas/Ft Worth, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington Dulles. Each program is slightly different, but the supplemental collections are being conducted to improve the quality of the data collections at each airport. In most cases the airport authority works in cooperation with its convention & visitors bureau or destination marketing organization.

By participating in this program, the airport/destination will collect a larger and more representative sample of passengers, as well as improve the control over the sample collection. All of the collections obtained from the airport will be combined and used in the national data NTTO releases on international travel to and from the USA. Combined in-flight and airport supplements will result in better representative sample of passengers at the airport, improving all of the estimates provided. The combined sample (national and supplemental) will be weighted to the country-of-residence and port-of-entry travel population figures. This program will also assist in obtaining an improved sample that better matches the count of visitors to the United States.

A testimonial from Fritz Smith, Vice President of Tourism, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

A testimonial from Matt Gaffney, President & CEO, Capital Region USA

A testimonial from Jayne Buck, Vice President Tourism, VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau

A testimonial from Brandon Barnes, Director, International Tourism Sales, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Below are some general responsibilities for NTTO and the destination/airport authority.

NTTO (through its contractor, CIC Research) will provide:

  • Analysis of current sample and suggested supplement.
  • A list of potential flights to target each month.
  • Questionnaires and pencils to be distributed to departing passengers in the appropriate language mix. There are 12 language versions available.
  • Prepaid, pre-addressed shipping labels and shipping bags for the return shipment to NTTO’s contractor.
  • Tally sheet for each flight NTTO requests be surveyed.
  • Guidance and monitor results of survey collections from main program and supplemental effort to make adjustments if needed.
  • Processing of all surveys collected

Destination/Airport Authority’s Responsibilities

  • The survey team will utilize the sample frame provided to them each month. The sample frame will include a list of flights to survey by airline and city pair.
  • Distribute and collect the self-administered surveys to both US citizens and non-resident international air passengers on a random basis.
  • Promptly return surveys to our contractor using prepaid, pre-addressed shipping labels and shipping bags provided.
  • Other options are available, including NTTO/its contractor hiring a survey contractor to collect the surveys. All costs associated will be billed to the parties interested.
  • Please see the Boarding Area Procedures
  • Please see Frequently Asked Questions.

For Additional Information:
To find out more about the program, go to:

To see the national level results of the survey, go to:

To see world regional and country specific estimates that include destinations visited, if sample sizes allow, go to:

We hope this description provides enough information to entice you to contact us to learn more about the program. If you have any questions, or require additional information on this program, please contact:

Ron Erdmann
Deputy Director
National Travel and Tourism Office
(202) 482-4554
Email: Ron Erdmann

Richard Champley
Senior Research Analyst & Program Manager
National Travel and Tourism Office
(202) 482-4753
Email: Richard Champley