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TI News: Information service from the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI)

August 09, 2012


The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that 5.3 million international visitors traveled to the United States in May 2012, a one percent increase over May 2011. May 2012 registered the 14th straight month of increases in total U.S. visits.

In May 2012, the top inbound markets continued to be Canada and Mexico with each market decreasing three percent for the month. Five of the nine overseas regions were up in May 2012 (Western Europe +2%, Asia +12%, South America +12%, Middle East +9% and Central America +1%). The remaining four overseas regions were down for the month: Oceania -1%, Eastern Europe -1%, the Caribbean -9% and Africa -4%.

For the first five months of 2012, visitation (25.1 million) was up six percent compared to the same period in 2011.

Overseas Resident Visitation

  • In May 2012, overseas resident visitation (2.4 million) was up five percent over May 2011.
  • May YTD 2012, overseas resident visits (10.9 million) were up nine percent compared to the same period of 2011.

Top 10 Countries

  • In May 2012, seven of the top 10 countries posted increases in resident visitation.
  • During the first five months of 2012, nine of the top 10 countries (sort based on May 2012) posted increases in visitation to the United States

Top 10 Countries (Sort based on May 2012)

Country of Residence % Change May
2012 vs. 2011
% Change YTD May
2012 vs. 2011
  Canada -3% 4%
  Mexico -3% 5%
  United Kingdom -3% -2%
  Japan 19% 14%
  Germany 15% 12%
  France 4% 5%
  Brazil 15% 19%
  People's Republic of China (EXCL HK) 26% 43%
  Australia 1% 6%
  South Korea 1% 12%

Top Ports: YTD May 2012
YTD May 2012, visitation through the top 15 ports of entry accounted for 82 percent of all overseas visits-nearly one percentage point below last year. The top three ports (New York, Miami and Los Angeles) accounted for 39 percent of all overseas arrivals, one percentage point less than last year. Twelve of the top 15 ports posted increases in arrivals during the first five months of 2012. Seven of these ports posted double-digit increases.

DHS Working to Improve the Travel Process for U.S. Visitors
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is diligently working to improve the entry process for U.S. visitors by automating the white CBP Form I-94 card. Currently, when a Foreign National (FN) from non-visa waiver countries enters the United States in a non-immigrant status, they are issued a 2-part white I-94 card. Federal regulations mandate the issuance of I-94 cards to FN entrants. So in order for the I-94 to be fully automated and the paper I-94 card eliminated entirely, an interim final rule is being drafted to change the Federal regulations. Along with revising the rule, the CBP is designing a system that will automate the I-94 process that will be responsible for electronically issuing I-94 numbers and tracking departure information without the necessity for manual data entry.

Backlog in I-94 Data Entry Process
Please note that the current processing time for entering foreign visitors' travel information into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection I-94 database has reached 30 days or more. This backlog may have a negative effect on OTTI's processing cycle for issuing timely U.S. visitation data, especially the release of June 2012 and July 2012 U.S. visitation data.

Access to OTTI Data
Manufacturing and Services' Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) collects, analyzes and disseminates international travel and tourism statistics from the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System. OTTI produces visitation data tables, including a more detailed region, country and port analyses. To access these data, you are encouraged to visit the OTTI monthly arrivals page at <https://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2012-I-001/index.html>.

Throughout this report, percent changes posted for international visitation to the United States for May 2012 were calculated by comparing data in May 2012 to data in May 2011. Also, percent changes posted for year to date 2012 were calculated by comparing data January - May 2012 to data January - May 2011.