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TI News: An information service from the National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO)

April 07, 2014


The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) projects international travel to the United States will continue experiencing strong growth through 2018, based on the National Travel and Tourism Office’s 2014 Spring Travel Forecast.

Visitor volume in 2014 is expected to increase 3.5 percent and reach 72.2 million visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States. This growth would build on the 4.7 percent increase in arrivals in 2013, which resulted in a record 69.8 million visitors.

According to the current forecast, the United States would see 3.4 percent to 4.1 percent annual growth rates in visitor volume over the 2014-2018 timeframe. By 2018 this growth would produce 83.8 million visitors, a 20 percent increase, and more than 14 million additional visitors compared to 2013. The latest forecast produces a compound annual growth rate over the forecast period of 3.7%. This rate is slightly lower than the rate in the Fall 2013 Travel Forecast due to underperforming growth from some key markets - most notably Canada and Mexico.

All top-20 visitor origin countries are forecast to grow from 2013 through 2018. Countries with the largest total growth percentages are China (139%), Colombia (56%), India (54%), Taiwan (52%), Brazil (50%), and Argentina (48%).

Four countries are expected to account for 59 percent of the projected growth from 2013 through 2018. These volume growth leaders are Canada (23% of expected total growth), China (18%), Mexico (11%), and Brazil (7%). 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 actual volume growth and the ultimate accuracy of the forecast. For example, despite a small 3.0% growth rate, Canada produced a greater number of additional travelers in 2013 compared to the previous year than China and Brazil combined.

If the Spring 2014 Travel Forecast is realized through 2018, the current top-ten countries remain as such, but China will move from #7 in 2013 to #4 in 2018, while Japan, Brazil, and German all slip down one place in the ranking. Outside the top ten, Columbia, Argentina, and Venezuela would each move up in ranking by pushing Italy from #12 in 2013 to #15 in 2018. Taiwan, which re-entered the top 20 in 2013, would move up from #20 to #18.

The U.S. travel forecast was prepared by research staff in the Department of Commerce/National Travel and Tourism Office using economic/demographic/social factors, DOC historical visitation trends, input from the DOC Foreign Commercial Service staff abroad, and numerous other miscellaneous sources. The NTTO travel forecast is updated in the spring and fall 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 2014 by 2 percent and to grow from 2013 to 2018 by 3.2 million and 1.5 million, or 14 and 10 percent, respectively. Growth from both countries would build on 2013 record volume levels.

Europe: By 2018 arrivals from Europe are projected to be 14.8 million, or 15 percent higher than the 2013 volume. The largest growth from Europe will come from the U.K. (+611,000), Germany (+220,000), and France (206,000). These growth forecasts reflect low-growth rates based on large traveler volume bases. For perspective, Western Europe countries are expected to produce 1.6 million additional travelers in 2018 versus 2013 compared to just 360,000 additional travelers from Eastern Europe countries.

Asia-Pacific: This world region is expected to produce a 44 percent increase in visitors by 2018. Japan, the largest Asian market and second-largest overseas market, is forecast to increase by 1% each year of the forecast to produce total growth of 190,000 additional travelers by the end of 2018. However, 2018 volume will remain well below the 1997 record level of 5.4 million. High growth rates and large growth volumes are expected for China (21%), Taiwan (15%), India (12%), and South Korea (7%) in 2014. Similarly, these four countries are expected to have among the largest total visitor volume growth of any country from 2013 through 2018. China is expected to increase a total of 2.5 million visitors, or 139 percent through 2018, and produce the second-largest number of additional visitors behind Canada. India could add 461,000 additional visitors (+54%), while South Korea should produce an additional 375,000 visitors (+28%). Australia dominates the Oceania region and is projected to increase 304,000 visitors, or 25 percent between 2013 and 2018.

South America: South America will remain a top producer of additional travelers for the next several years. By 2018 South America will generate nearly 2.2 million more visitors, a 43% increase compared to 2013. Brazil, the largest source market in the region, is expected to build on its 2013 record-breaking performance and increase 9% in 2014. By 2018 the United States could host 3.1 million Brazilian visitors, a 50% increase over 2013. Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina, which ranked 13, 14, and 15, respectively, in 2013, are forecast to have high but decelerating growth rates through 2018. Colombia should produce the greatest growth of 421,000 visitors (+56%), followed closely by Argentina’s additional 331,000 visitors (+48%), and Venezuela’s potential growth of 189,000 visitors (+24%).

For more information on the NTTO Travel Forecast, including data tables for the world regions, data tables for the top 20 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/