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

January 07, 2013


The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that 7.2 million international visitors traveled to the United States in July 2012, a seven percent increase over July 2011. July 2012 registered the 16th straight month of increases in total U.S. visits.

In July 2012, the top inbound markets continued to be Canada and Mexico with each market up six percent and 16 percent, respectively. Seven of the nine overseas regions were up in July 2012 (Asia +12%, South America +12%, Caribbean + 2%, Oceania +2%, Central America + 1%, Eastern Europe +1%, and Africa +16%) Western Europe and the Middle East registered the only declines, down four percent and 11 percent, respectively, in July 2012 compared to a year ago.

For the first seven months of 2012, visitation (37.6 million) was up six percent compared to the same period in 2011.

Overseas Resident Visitation

  • In July 2012, overseas resident visitation (3.1 million) was up three percent over July 2011.
  • July YTD 2012, overseas resident visits (16.6 million) were up seven percent compared to the same period of 2011.

Top 10 Countries

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

Top 10 Countries (Sort based on July 2012)

Country of Residence % Change July
2012 vs. 2011
% Change YTD July
2012 vs. 2011
  Canada 6% 5%
  Mexico 16% 7%
  United Kingdom -3% -2%
  Japan 12% 15%
  People's Republic of China (EXCL HK) 37% 40%
  France -7% 0%
  Germany 4% 5%
  Brazil 11% 18%
  South Korea 0% 7%
  Australia 8% 5%

Top Ports: YTD July 2012
YTD July 2012, visitation through the top 15 ports of entry accounted for 81 percent of all overseas visits, a little more than one-half of one percentage point below last year. The top three ports (New York, Miami and Los Angeles) accounted for 39 percent of all overseas arrivals, nearly one percentage point below last year. Twelve of the top 15 ports posted increases in arrivals during the first seven months of 2012. Five of these ports posted double-digit increases.

Changes to 2012 Processing of the I-94 Data Program
In reviewing the I-94 data for 2012, it was noticed that there was a steep jump in duplicate admission numbers for residents of overseas countries who crossed by land into the United States from Canada. These duplicate admissions numbers were for overseas visitors and not residents or citizens of Canada. This trend started in January 2012 and peaked in the second quarter of 2012, requiring the re-run of January-June I-94 data.

An admissions (entry) number, recording an arrival into the United States, is associated with an active Form I-94 (the U.S. arrival record). The I-94 Form allows multiple entries into the United States during the period that it is active, which is generally 90 days for citizens of visa waiver countries and up to six months for a citizen of a non-visa waiver country. Therefore, duplicate I-94 admission numbers are possible and are expected. An overseas visitor who flies directly to the United States more than once during the active period of the I-94 will be counted under the same I-94 admission number for each arrival during the active period, but each of these arrival records will have a different date and time. And air departures will also be noted in the traveler's record.

The implementation of advanced technology required by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) incorporated international travel documents that are electronically readable. The equipment and infrastructure changes necessary to read these documents have been rolled out over a period of many months at ports of entry (POE) throughout the United States. Historically, frequent border crossers were counted only once on their paper I-94 arrival record during the period that the I-94 Form was active. Now these frequent border crossers are counted each time they cross the border as their documents are electronically scanned and recorded.

For example in July 2011 there were only 1,167 duplicate admission numbers out of a total 40,803 overseas residents crossing into the United States through the Blaine, Washington land port of entry. However, in July 2012, there were 27,043 duplicate admission numbers for overseas residents crossing into the United States through Blaine, Washington out of a total 75,004 border crossers.

The duplicate admission numbers, recording re-entry in the Canada-United States land POE data for 2012, are very similar to the increase in duplicate admission numbers reported in the Mexico-United States land POE data in 2010. The data correction method used to remove the multi-entry counts for overseas visitors arriving through Canada by land in 2012 is the same correction method used for Mexico in 2010. The first occurrence of an admission number by land for a valid visitor Visa category is retained. Any further duplicates of land arrivals under that admission number and Visa category are removed for the balance of the reporting month. This conservative approach also eliminates ‘day trips' which do not qualify as visits.

These data revisions have reduced the total overseas visitor arrival count by 233,459 (from 13,754,430 visits to 13,520,971 visits), a -1.7 percent decrease in visits for the January 2012 through June 2012 period.

The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries staff apologize for any inconvenience that these data revisions have created. It is our objective to report the monthly I-94 visitation data in a consistent and accurate format to support the informational needs of the travel industry.

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 July 2012 were calculated by comparing data in July 2012 to data in July 2011. Also, percent changes posted for year to date 2012 were calculated by comparing data January - July 2012 to data January - July 2011.