Quarterly Analysis - Third Quarter 2001

2001 Quarterly Analysis on Arrivals to the United States for
September 2001, and January - September 2001

The initial deep collapse in international travel to the United States in September 2001 is unsurpassed. Key factors for the deep fall in travel are directly related to the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania (New York, Virginia & Pennsylvania) and the ensuing conflict. However, a weakening global economy in 2001 likely contributed to the unprecedented collapse in international visitor travel to the U.S., with international travel starting to contract as early as February 2001.

In September 2001, international travel to the U.S. plummeted an average of 29 percent compared to September 2000 visits. Overseas travel (excluding Canadian and Mexican arrivals) registered the sharpest single month decline in recorded history. Overseas arrivals in September plummeted 34 percent to 1.6 million arrivals, 2.5 times greater than at the height of the Persian Gulf War (February 1991). In February 1991, overseas travel declined by 14 percent. Overseas travel in July 2001 contracted 7 percent to 2.5 million arrivals, while August 2001 was up 1 percent to register 2.5 million arrivals. September visits historically account for about 32 percent of the third quarter arrivals. The third quarter visits were down only 13 percent to 6.5 million arrivals. So far only two months (January and August) registered positive overall gains in 2001 leaving the year-to-date arrivals down 7percent to 18.2 million.

Visitors from Asia collapsed 41 percent, the largest decline by a world region. Japanese visits buckled 45 percent in September, compared to 2000. Western European travel in September dropped 34 percent, collapsing from a record high set in 2000. Travel from the UK, the largest European travel market for the U.S., deteriorated by 27 percent, slightly below the average decrease. South America, the United States' third largest overseas regional market, also contracted drastically, down 35 percent compared to September 2000 visits. Travel from Brazil contracted more than any top ten visitor market, down 49 percent, compared to September 2000 travel.

Closer to home, our neighboring markets also plummeted. Travel from Canada in September spiraled down 19 percent, compared to September 2000. Mexican visitation to the U.S. (arrivals to the U.S. interior only) buckled 30 percent, compared to travel in September 2000.

Historically, September accounts for nearly 10 percent of all overseas visitation per year to the U.S. Never before has the U.S. travel industry experienced such a devastating decline in travel from abroad during a single month. The initial impact of the September 11th attack and the subsequent travel collapse in September was nearly seven times greater than the initial impact from the Persian Gulf War in February 1991.

Top Visitor Market Travel for September and Year to Date 2001:

Travel from Canada to the U.S. in September spiraled downwards 19 percent to 996,579 visitors, compared to September 2000. By comparison, travel from Canada to the U.S. during the Persian Gulf War (February 1991) actually increased 6 percent. July and August travel were both down 3 percent and registered 1.7 million visitors respectively. Travel from Canada declined 7 percent to 4.4 million visitors in the third quarter. Travel began contracting in February 2001 (the weak exchange rate with the U.S. dollar likely contributed to ongoing contraction) with year-to-date travel down 4 percent to 11.2 million visitors.

Mexican visitation to the U.S. (arrivals to the U.S. interior only*) for the January-September 2001 collapsed by 30 percent to register 196,432 visitors. The terrorist attacks of September 11th were more than three times greater than the impact on travel from the Persian Gulf War. In February 1991, travel dropped 10 percent compared to 30 percent in September 2001. Travel in July grew 6 percent to 610,532 visitors, and August arrivals grew 8 percent to register 409,247 visitors. Given the positive growth in July and August, the third quarter of 2001 only declined 2 percent to 1.2 million arrivals. September was the first month of contraction in 2001; thus the year-to-date travel from Mexico is still up 3 percent registering over 3 million arrivals. Declines were even greater, however, with air travel from Mexico. In September, air travel from Mexico dropped 40 percent to 82,556 arrivals, compared to air travel in September 2000. By comparison, air travel from Mexico during the Persian Gulf War contracted 11 percent. Year-to-date (January - September 2001) air travel is down 3 percent to 1.3 million arrivals.

United Kingdom:
September travel depreciated 27 percent to 334,402 visitors - the largest single decline in British travel to the U.S. ever recorded. The sharp collapse in travel in September is nearly seven times greater than the Gulf War's initial impact. In February 1991, travel from the UK declined only 4 percent. However, signs of decline were present throughout the year with travel tapering off in both the first and second quarters (12 percent and 8 percent respectively). Historically, September accounted for one in ten visits from the UK (10 percent) and approximately one third (35 percent) of the third quarter arrivals. July travel declined 4 percent, while August travel grew a modest one percent. Even with travel crumbling in September, third quarter visits only contracted 11 percent just three percentage points greater than the second quarter of 2001. Minor growth in January, March and August helped to keep the year-to-date loss minimal. Year-to-date UK travel declined 7 percent to 3.2 million arrivals. Travel from the UK is forecasted to surpass Japan as the top visitor market in 2001. This is even more likely now, given the greater affect the September 11th, attacks had on the Japanese market.

Travel from Japan plunged downward 45 percent to 268,138 visits, compared to September 2000 travel. By comparison, in February 1991, at the inception of the Gulf War, travel declined 39 percent. Safety concerns are paramount for many Japanese travelers. The September decline is the highest single month decline recorded, and travel is not likely to rebound until safety concerns are addressed. The pattern of Japanese travel to the U.S. was varied prior to the third quarter with modest growth (up 2 percent) in the first quarter and a modest contraction in the second quarter (down 6 percent). Year-to-date Japanese visits are down 7 percent to 3.6 million, and third quarter travel is down 16 percent to 1.2 million visitors. In July, travel contracted 2 percent to 432,189 visitors, while travel in August grew a modest one percent to register 514,617 arrivals.

German travel to the U.S. in September travel declined 46 percent to 105,585 visitors. Year-to-date travel is down 21 percent to 1.1 million, and the third quarter hit bottom registering only 376,199 arrivals, a decline of 27 percent in 2001 compared to the same months in 2000. The third quarter collapse is not solely tied to the September attacks. July travel declined 16 percent to 144,152, and in August, travel dropped 13 percent to 126,462 visitors. The combination of the September attacks and continued economic woes contributed to making September 2001 the largest decline in visits from Germany to the United States. Compared to travel in February 1991 (Persian Gulf War), the September drop is 16 times greater. In February 1991, German travel actually grew a modest 3 percent compared to a 46 percent drop in visitors in September 2001.

Travel to the US from France in September 2001 dropped 34 percent to register 55,387 visitors. Travel in the third quarter contracted 15 percent to register 279,853 visitors. Year-to-date visits are down 12 percent to 753,199 visitors. As with most European Union countries, travel had already begun trailing off prior to September. After ending 2000 on a positive note (up 3 percent), travel from France has been down every month in 2001. Once again, the combination of military conflict and economic concerns make September's decline alarming. By comparison, in February 1991 (Persian Gulf War), travel from France grew 8 percent compared to a 34 percent collapse in September 2001.

Brazilian travel to the U.S. crumbled 49 percent to register only 30,335 visitors in September. The drop in travel was greater than any other top market in September. The September decline in travel is, however, surpassed by the 51 percent drop in travel in December 1999 due chiefly to the devaluation of the Brazilian Real. The September attacks appear to have a greater impact when compared to the Persian Gulf War. Brazilian travel declined 22 percent in February 1991, compared to a 49 percent drop in September 2001 travel. Travel from Brazil had been on the decline since March 2001 after an 11 percent rebound in 2000. July travel dropped 20 percent to 69,096, and in August travel contracted 14 percent to register 42,191 visitors. Brazilian travel in the third quarter of 2001 was down 27 percent to register 141,622 visitors. Year-to-date travel from Brazil is down 12 percent to 483,453 visitors.

South Korea:
Travel from South Korea declined 20 percent to 39,623 visitors in September. South Korean travel to the U.S. was staying afloat and even showing signs of growth prior to September. Travel during the third quarter was only down one percent to 194,710 visitors despite the September collapse. In July travel was down 1 percent to 82,814 visitors, while August grew 12 percent to 72,273 visitors. September's attacks significantly impacted travel from South Korea compared, to the Persian Gulf War. In February 1991, travel grew 2 percent, versus the 20 percent collapse in September. It should be noted that at the onset of the Asian economic crisis, travel from South Korea plummeted 64 percent in January 1998. The impact of the attacks has eroded the slow but steady recovery in this market since 1998.

Travel from Italy in September plummeted 40 percent to 26,722 visitors. Travel in July and August was waning (down 5 percent and 4 percent respectively) and travel for the third quarter declined 13 percent (the same drop as the second quarter). Travel from Italy began to decline in March 2001, and continued to contract through the third quarter. Year-to-date travel to the U.S. in 2001 is down 10 percent to 419,539 visitors.

September travel from Venezuela slipped 21 percent - the slowest decline compared to the other top 10 overseas markets. Travel from Venezuela for the quarter was flat, the only top market not to register negatively in the third quarter. July travel grew 5 percent to 54,519 visitors and August travel jumped up 12 percent to 86,164 visitors compared to the same months in 2000. Travel from Venezuela continued to register positive gains in 2001 until the September decline, with year-to-date travel up 5 percent to 428,090 visitors.

Travel from the Netherlands in September 2001 collapsed 41 percent to 32,205 visitors. The third quarter declined 26 percent to 127,214 visitors. July declined 21 percent to 55,170 visitors and August slipped 16 percent to 39,839 visitors. Travel decreased in every month in 2001, resulting in a year-to-date travel decline of 20 percent to 341,871 visitors compared to the same period in 2000.

September travel from Australia crumbled 36 percent to 41,144 visitors, compared to September 2000. July travel was down 12 percent to 40,825 visitors and August travel slipped 5 percent to 39,844 visitors. In the third quarter 121,813 travelers visited the U.S., a 20 percent decline from the third quarter in 2000. Travel began to contract in February 2001 and remained in the red through September. Year-to-date travel is down 14 percent, registering 354,848 visitors, compared to January through September 2000 travel.

The information provided in this analysis was from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries' using the data from the monthly publication entitled Summary of International Travel to the United States. We hope it was useful.

The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) will expand what we report on the monthly arrivals to the United States. Currently we have the September 2001 arrivals for all world regions and 19 countries posted on our web site at: https://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2001-I-001/index.html

Because of the dramatic impact of 9/11 on international arrivals to this country, the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries feels additional information is needed. Therefore, we are also providing a table on the January-August, September, January-September 2001 with percentage change figures for the top 40 countries and for all countries tracked by the I-94 program. To see the top 40 countries, go to: https://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2001-I-001/top40.html

To see the table with arrivals for the January-August, September, January-September 2001 with percentage change figures for all countries, go to: https://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2001-I-001/summary.html

These tables may be found on two different sections of our web site. They may be found in our recovery section at: https://travel.trade.gov/recovery.html

They have also been posted on the 2001 monthly arrivals page at: https://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2001-I-001/index.html

Please note that anyone who is really interested in the monthly arrivals data for the top 90 or so countries and world regions could purchase our monthly reports. For subscription information to the monthly non-resident I-94 arrivals database, go to: https://travel.trade.gov/research/reports/i94/index.html

This report is available in a print version and as an Excel file.

To learn more about the arrivals data program, please visit OTTI's web site at: https://travel.trade.gov/research/programs/i94/index.html

The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries will provide this monthly data for several additional months. To determine how long we do so, we would like to hear if this analysis was useful and if we should continue it. Please send you comments to: tinet_webmaster@ita.doc.gov

If we do not receive many responses, this will be the last monthly reporting of all countries and we will go back to our quarterly analysis.

Thank you for your interest in the international arrival data. We hope this information will prove useful to you.