May 29, 1997
On April 30, 1997 Leslie R. Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tourism Industries (TI) sent you a letter explaining why The U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Tourism Industries office had not released the 1996 Summary of International Travel to the United States reports. Leslie explained the efforts underway by Tourism Industries staff to adjust the INS statistics and our intention to release YTD figures by the end of May 1997.
We are happy to report that our substantial investment to adjust the INS temporary immigrant data to estimate confident arrival figures for 1996 to the U.S. has paid off. We have finalized the arrival estimates for 1996. The 1996 arrival figures are based on the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Statistics Canada, Banco de Mexico, Japan National Tourism Organization statistics, and Tourism Industries adjustments to the INS temporary immigrant statistics. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has supported these final 1996 arrival statistics.
The April 19, 1997 letter indicated that we would be able to provide you with the YTD Summary of International Travel to the United States report by the end of May 1997. Tourism Industries is going to release an abridged report in order to provide subscribers monthly and YTD arrival figures. The abridged summary will report the number of visitors by country of residence, by month. The good news is that it will have all countries rather than just the top 90 countries, as reported in the traditional report. However, we will not be able to produce, by the end of May, each table that appears in the traditional format. Instead the following tables will be released:
Table 1. Total YTD 1996 Arrivals by World Region and Country Table 2. Monthly 1996 Arrivals by World Region and Country Table 3. First Quarter Arrivals (January, February, March and Qtr total) Table 4. Second Quarter Arrivals (April, May, June and Qtr total) Table 5. Third Quarter Arrivals (July, August, September and Qtr total) Table 6. Fourth Quarter Arrivals (October, November, December and Qtr total) Summary Table 1. 1996 Arrivals for Top Countries & Percent Change Over 1995, by World Region and Country. Summary Table 2. 1996 Arrivals for World Regions & Percent Change Over 1995.
Tourism Industries has adjusted one of two key variables in the INS statistics - we have adjusted the residency of the visitor to report arrivals by country of residence, by month and total YTD arrivals. However, as we mentioned in the April letter, the port-of-entry data variable also requires adjustments. There are other tables that have also been adversely affected that are usually reported in the Summary of International Travel to the United States report. In order to publish the traditional report, TI must first adjust these anomalies. This task is somewhat more difficult than adjusting the residency statistics.
Currently TI is focussing on adjusting the port-of-entry statistics. The port-of-entry variable is used to weight TI's Survey of International Air Travelers ("In-Flight Survey", IFS). The IFS provides the nation with state and city visitation estimates, characteristic profiles, and expenditure estimates. Once the port-of-entry figures are adjusted, TI will use this data to process the IFS, and release the port-of-entry data to subscribers. Our current target is to release the port-of-entry data in mid-July and produce the IFS reports by the end of the Summer. The adjusted port-of-entry statistics will be added as tables on our Internet site for immediate access. We will send you a notification at that time.
TI intends to release final reports to subscribers as soon as the majority of data variables are adjusted. TI will continue to release sections of adjusted 1996 INS data via TINET. We encourage subscribers to continue to access the tables on the TINET during this process.
It is likely that the final 1996 reports will not include reliable First Intended Address statistics. TI discovered that there are over five million unknown First Intended Address records. It may be impossible to adjust these data anomalies because there are no original data records to base the adjustments on. If you are a specific user of the First Intended Address data, then please contact Scott Johnson at (202) 482-4555 or send him an E-Mail.
INS has continued to process the 1997 I-94 forms. INS has not provided TI with 1997 statistics yet. Early indications from INS suggest that there are still data anomalies occurring and they still have some processing problems. INS is working to improve their processing system and have supported TI's efforts to determine how to adjust records.
TI has established an entirely new system for reviewing original INS data in order to determine if there are anomalies in the statistics. The new system also enables TI to identify data that are correct, thus allowing us to report correct data sooner and work on adjusting any data anomalies in conjunction with INS.
TI plans to continue to release the 1997 statistics via the TINET. By continuing to post the statistics on TINET, TI can still provide subscribers with correct sections of this vital information as soon as it becomes available. TI intends to continue to publish the traditional reports, but they will only be released once the entire database has been confirmed.
Thank you for being patient during this very difficult process. TI is confident that the lessons learned during this process will help to improve our ability to provide subscribers and the nation with more accurate and timely international visitor statistics.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Tourism Industries