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December 16, 2008


September Arrivals Flat When Compared to September 2007

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that 39 million international visitors traveled to the United States during the first nine months of 2008, an increase of eight percent over the same period in 2007. In September 2008, total visitation was 4.1 million, flat when compared to September 2007.

International visitors spent $108.4 billion from January through September 2008, an increase of 22 percent over the first nine months of 2007. In September 2008, visitors spent $12.4 billion, an increase of 16 percent over September 2007.

HIGHLIGHTS: September 2008 International Arrivals1 to the United States

  • Year-to-date 2008, Canadian visitation grew nearly 12 percent over the same period in 2007 driven by land arrivals, up 12 percent. At the same time, air arrivals increased 11 percent.
  • Arrivals from Mexico (traveling to interior2 U.S. points) decreased six percent during the first nine months of 2008. Land arrivals decreased seven percent and air arrivals for the year were down five percent.
  • Overseas (excludes Canada and Mexico) arrivals increased five percent in September and nine percent year-to-date. Visitation from overseas markets has grown for 17 consecutive months.
  • Visitation from Western Europe was up 11 percent for September and 17 percent year-to-date, accounting for 48 percent of overseas arrivals.

Overseas Arrivals

  • Arrivals from the United Kingdom were down one percent in September and up six percent year-to-date. Visitors from the United Kingdom accounted for 37 percent of all Western European arrivals.
  • Year-to-date, German arrivals increased 20 percent, French arrivals grew 28 percent, and Italian arrivals were up 29 percent, continuing growth trends from 2007. For the first nine months of 2008, visitation from the Netherlands grew 26 percent. At the same time, visitors from Spain and Ireland grew 36 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Arrivals from Sweden and Switzerland were up 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively, for the year.
  • Visitation from Asia decreased one percent year-to-date. Japanese arrivals decreased six percent year-to-date. Japan accounts for 51 percent of all Asian visitors for the year. Year-to-date, arrivals from South Korea decreased over two percent. India and PR China grew nine percent and 28 percent, respectively. Taiwanese visitation decreased nearly four percent in the first nine months of 2008.
  • Arrivals from South America were up nearly 14 percent year-to-date. Year-to-date, double-digit growth in visitation was observed from Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina. From South America, top arrivals were from Brazil, accounting for 30 percent of arrivals from the region.
  • Visitation from the Caribbean area decreased eight percent year-to-date. Air arrivals from the Caribbean were also down seven percent for the year. During the first nine months of 2008, there was a 14 percent decrease in arrivals from the Dominican Republic, a seven percent decline from Jamaica, and a 29 percent drop from the Bahamas.
  • Travel from Oceania increased five percent year-to-date. Australia registered a six percent expansion year-to-date. Year-to-date, Australia accounted for nearly 81 percent of all arrivals from Oceania.
  • Central American arrivals increased nearly one percent year-to-date.
  • Arrivals from the Middle East increased 10 percent year-to-date. For the first nine months of 2008, Israel’s visitation increased six percent.
  • Eastern European arrivals grew 15 percent year-to-date. Russian visitation increased 28 percent for the first nine months of 2008.
  • African visitation was up 16 percent year-to-date.

To access the 2008 monthly arrivals data for world regions and top markets, visit

To review the 2008 quarterly analysis, for the third quarter year-to-date, visit …

TOP PORTS: Year-to-Date August 2008

Arrivals to the United States by port-of-entry are tracked on a monthly basis. The U.S. Department of Commerce has arrival data on more than 40 U.S. ports-of-entry from all world regions and 30 countries, with a brief analysis presented on the top 15 ports for overseas arrivals during 2008.

Year-to-date, overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico) were up nine percent through September 2008. Arrivals through the top 15 ports-of-entry accounted for 83 percent of all overseas arrivals, about the same as last year.

Thirteen of the top fifteen ports posted increases in arrivals for the first nine months of 2008. Arrivals increased by double digits through nine of the ports. Arrivals through San Francisco and Chicago were up 12 percent and seven percent, respectively, moving them into 5th and 6th positions ahead of Honolulu, which experienced a nine percent decline in arrivals. Atlanta, increasing 15 percent, moved into 8th place ahead of Agana, Guam. Houston, increasing 10 percent, moved into 14th place.

To access top port activity, go to OTTI monthly arrival page above and scroll down the page until you see the yellow title bar entitled: 2008 Monthly Top Airports for Overseas Non-Resident Arrivals. Click on the Excel file to view the monthly port figures.


The monthly Summary of International Travel to the U.S. report has approximately 30 tables that provide data on monthly and year-to-date arrivals to the country.  The report provides data on approximately 90 countries each month and more than 40 ports of entry.  Numerous breakouts are provided by world region and country for the port tables as well.

To find out more about this program, please go to:

If you would like to subscribe to the monthly international arrivals reports, please go to:

U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration
Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI)
1401 Constitution Avenue N.W., Room 1003
Washington, D.C.  20230
Phone: (202) 482-0140
Fax: (202) 482-2887
Email: Otti@trade.gov

1 The U.S. Department of Commerce complies with the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) standard definition and class of international travelers when reporting monthly and annual arrivals data. This standard excludes all day-trippers from any of the counts/estimates, including those from Canada and Mexico. Also, OTTI has included non-immigrant visa type ‘E’ treaty traders or investors and ‘I’ representatives of foreign information media into the counts to more accurately reflect business visitation.

2 The U.S. ‘interior’ begins 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the U.S.-Mexico border. This distinguishes longer-haul travelers, including air passengers, from short-haul border crossers.