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

December 06, 2012


The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) projects international travel to the United States will continue experiencing strong growth through 2017, based on the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries 2012 Fall Travel Forecast.

Visitor volume in 2012 is expected to finish at plus 6 percent and reach 66.48 million visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States. This growth would build on the 4.9 percent increase in arrivals in 2011, which resulted in a record 62.7 million visitors.

According to the current forecast, the United States would see 3.6 percent to 4.3 percent annual growth rates in visitor volume over the 2013-2017 timeframe. By 2017 this growth would produce 80.48 million visitors, a 28 percent increase and nearly 18 million additional visitors compared to 2011.

All world regions are forecast to grow over the period, ranging from a low for Central America (+1%), to a high for Asia (+64%), South America (+60%), and the Middle East (+55%). Countries with the largest forecasted total growth percentages are China (+259%), Brazil (+83%), Argentina (+67%), Russian Federation (+55%), and South Korea (+51%). Jamaica is the only top 40 visitor origin country forecast to decline from 2011 through 2017.

The North America world region will account for half (42%) of the total visitor growth of 17.8 million visitors by 2017. Asia (26% of total growth), South America (13%), and Western Europe (12%) account for the bulk of the remaining 52% of total growth in visitor volume forecast in 2017 compared to 2011 actual volume.

Six countries are expected to account for 72 percent of the projected growth from 2011 through 2017, including Canada (29%), China (16%), Mexico (13%), Brazil (7%), United Kingdom (4%), and Japan (4%). Although China and Brazil continue to get the bulk of media attention because of their consistent and very high growth rates, the traditional top origin countries will dictate the ultimate accuracy of the forecast. In fact, the expected growth from Canada is larger than the expected total visitor volume for any other country in 2017, except Mexico.

The U.S. travel forecast was prepared by research staff in the Department of Commerce/Office of Travel & Tourism Industries using economic / demographic / social factors, DOC historical visitation trends, input from the DOC Foreign Commercial Service staff abroad, and numerous other miscellaneous sources. The DOC Travel Forecast is updated in May and October each year.


Forecast Highlights by Region

North America: The top two markets generating visitors to the United States - Canada and Mexico - are both forecast to increase in 2012 by 5 percent, and to grow by 5.1 million and 2.3 million, or +24 and +17 percent, respectively, from 2011 to 2017. Canada's annual growth would build on the 2011 record of 21.34 million visitors and Mexico's growth would establish new records beginning in 2013.

Europe: Visitors from Europe are expected to increase by 2 percent in 2012, followed by slightly higher growth over the next five years. By 2017 arrivals from Europe are projected to be 15.0 million, or 19 percent higher than the 2011 total. The largest growth in Europe will come from the U.K. (+697,000), Germany (+483,000), and France (+327,000).

Asia-Pacific: Asia is projected to generate a visitor increase of 14 percent in 2012. The region is projected to have larger increases over the next few years for a total 64 percent increase from 2011 to 2017. Japan, the largest Asian market and second-largest overseas market, is forecast to increase by 9 percent in 2012, then return to low growth between +1% and +3 % annual, to produce total growth of 661,000 additional travelers by the end of 2017. Very high growth rates and high growth volumes are expected for China (41%), South Korea (12%), and India (12%) in 2012. Similarly, these three countries are expected to have among the largest total growth rates of any country over the 2011-2017 timeframe. China is expected to increase a total of 2.8 million visitors, or 259 percent through 2017, the second-largest number of additional visitors behind Canada. South Korea should produce an additional 571,000 visitors (+51%), while India could add 312,000 new visitors (+47%). Oceania is expected to post 7 percent growth in 2012, and add 508,000 visitors, or 41 percent, through 2017. Australia dominates the Oceania region and is projected to increase 476,000 visitors, or 46 percent between 2011 and 2017.

South America: South America is projected to increase by 15 percent in 2012, the largest growth rate of any region, and should remain a top producer in additional travelers for the next several years. By 2017 South America will generate nearly 2.3 million more visitors, a 60 percent increase compared to 2011. Brazil, the largest source market in the region, is expected to build on its 2011 record-breaking performance, and increase 18 percent in 2012 and produce 1.78 million visitors. By 2017 the United States could host a record 2.8 million Brazilian visitors, an 83% increase over 2011. Venezuela, Argentina, and Columbia, ranked 15, 16, and 17, respectively, in 2011, are forecast to have similar high growth rates for 2012, and similar growth trends through 2017. Argentina may produce the greatest growth of 344,000 visitors (+67%), but followed closely by Venezuela's additional 254,000 visitors (+45%) and Colombia's potential growth of 212,000 visitors (+43%).

For more information on the OTTI Travel Forecast, including data tables for the world regions, data tables for the top 40 visitor origin countries, and justification for each country forecast, including positive and negative factors that might influence travel from each country to the United States, please visit: https://travel.trade.gov/view/f-2000-99-001/index.html

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, please visit: https://travel.trade.gov/