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TI News: An information service from Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI)

June 11, 2010


The U.S. Department of Commerce projects international travel to the United States to return to a growth mode in 2010. Visitor volume is expected to increase five percent followed by five to seven percent annual increases through 2014.

The rebound would completely offset the five percent decline in arrivals registered in 2009, the first decline in visitors since 2003. Visitor volume grew 41 percent between 2003, the low visitor volume level over the past ten years, and 2008, the record year for arrivals.

The forecast for 2010-2014 predicts that the record for total arrivals will be broken for each of the years 2010-2014. International arrivals will reach almost 72 million, an increase of 31 percent from 2009 through 2014.

In 2010 all but three of the top 25 origin countries will post increases in visitor volume. The largest increases in 2010 will be from Brazil (22%), China (22%), Korea (18%), Argentina (13%), Australia (12%), and India (12%).

The U.S. travel forecast was prepared in-house by staff in the Department of Commerce/Office of Travel & Tourism Industries using economic/ demographic/ social factors, Commerce historical visitation trends, input from the Commerce Commercial Service staff abroad, and other numerous and varied sources. The Department does not forecast traveler spending, but spending per visitor typically moves in the same direction as changes in visitor volume. Thus when visitor volume increases—as is forecast for each of the years 2010-2014—visitor spending typically increases by an even greater level. The same often occurs for declines; in 2009, visitation declined five percent, but visitor spending declined 15 percent.

Forecast Highlights by Region

North America - The top two markets generating visitors to the U.S. - Canada and Mexico—are each forecast to increase by seven percent in 2010, and to grow by 26 and 35 percent, respectively, from 2009 to 2014. Canada and Mexico are forecast to set new records in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Europe - Visitors from Europe are expected to increase by two percent in 2010, followed by additional slow growth for the next three years.By 2014 arrivals from Europe will be 17 percent higher than the 2009 total. The United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain are projected to have growth between zero and two percent in 2010 compared to 2009 visitor levels, but higher growth is forecast for Sweden (+8%), Italy (+7%), the Netherlands (+6%), and Switzerland (+6%). Following a 23 percent decline in 2009, Ireland is forecasted to post additional declines in 2010 (-6%) and in 2011

Asia-Pacific - Asia is projected to generate a visitor increase of nine percent in 2010, and then post similar annual increases over the next several years for a total 49 percent increase from 2009 to 2014. The largest Asian market and second-largest overseas market, Japan, is forecast to increase by five percent in 2010 and post relatively slower growth through 2014. Very high growth rates are expected for China (22%), South Korea (18%), and India (12%). Similarly, these three countries are expected to have the largest total growth rates over the 2009-2014 period. Oceania is expected to post a 10 percent growth in visitors, a level second only to South America. Total Oceania visitation should grow 51 percent from 2009-2014.

South America - South America is projected to increase by 11 percent in 2010, the highest growth rate of any region and should remain a leader in arrivals growth rates for the next several years. By 2014 South America will generate more than 4.3 million visitors, a 58 percent increase compared to 2009. Brazil, the largest source market in the region, is expected to increase 22 percent in 2010 and produce a record 1.09 million visitors. By 2014 the United States may host a record 1.9 million Brazilian visitors, a 113% increase over 2009. Argentina is forecast to post an increase of 13 percent in 2010 and increase a total of 55 percent by 2014. Colombia should have solid growth in 2010 (9%), but Venezuela (-2%) is expected to join Ireland and Taiwan as the only top-twenty five origin countries with declines in 2010.

Travel and tourism is the largest services export industry for the United States and has produced a trade surplus since 1989. For official information on international travel to the United States, including additional information on the forecast for travel to the United States for 2010-2014 for all world regions and 40 countries, please visit https://travel.trade.gov/

The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries has visitation data for more than 200 countries that generate visitors to the United States, as well as visitation data for each world region. To learn more about international visitation and visitor spending in the United States, access the 2010 data tables, and to read additional analyses of these data, please visit: https://travel.trade.gov/outreachpages/inbound.general_information.inbound_overview.html