The U.S. welcomed 25,826,468 international visitors throughout the first
nine months of 2003, a decline of 6.2 percent compared to 2002. Only two
of the top ten visitor arrival markets registered positive gains –
the United Kingdom (up 2.3 percent) and Spain (also up 2.3 percent).
Total international arrivals to the U.S. began on a positive note in
2003. However, a sluggish global economy, the Iraqi War (commencing 3/19),
SARS (March/April), and airline capacity constraints contributed to eight
months of contraction over the period February through the September of
2003. The rate of contraction has generally been declining. In other words
there has been a subtle shift upwards since the first quarter. (Graph)
To some extent the declines in March were partially offset by the gains
in April due to the different dates in the occurrence of Easter (March
31, 2002 vs. April 20, 2003).
In September 3.0 million visitors came to the U.S. This represents a
3.5 percent decline, or 108,000 fewer arrivals than last September. On
a quarterly basis the September results contributed to a 3.3 percent drop,
or 365,000 fewer visitors this year. Nevertheless, third quarter was an
improvement over second and first quarters that dropped 8.5 percent and
7.6 percent, respectively. As mentioned above the cumulative year-to-date
downturn of 6.2 percent, accounted for 1.71 million fewer arrivals this
The decline in overseas arrivals, excluding Canada and Mexico, was the
major contributor to the overall decline in international tourism throughout
the year. However, in September there were 1.7 million overseas arrivals,
a decline of less than 1 percent, the smallest monthly decline since February.
For the third quarter there were 5.3 million arrivals, a drop of 4 percent.
And for the year, through September, overseas arrivals totaled 13.1 million,
a decline of 8.6 percent, or 1.2 million fewer travelers than last year.
Travel to the U.S. declined from all world regions for the first nine
months of 2003. The strongest major world region was Western Europe, which
grew 1.6 percent in September and 0.5% in the third quarter. Arrivals
from Western Europe totaled 6.0 million year-to-date, a 1 percent decline
from 2002. Asia origin traffic declined 4.5 percent in September, its
smallest monthly decline since February. For the third quarter Asian arrivals
dropped 8.6 percent, a major improvement over the second quarter (down
33.6 percent). For the year, arrivals from Asia totaled 3.6 million, a
decline of 16.3 percent, or 710,000 less visitors.
Arrivals from South America continued to register the largest overall
decline, down 6.2 percent in September, down 12.5 percent for the third
quarter with an accumulated 20 percent decline year-to-date.
(Venezuela has been a driver in the decline with chronic double-digit
declines all year. Argentina, however strongly improved in the third quarter.
Colombian arrivals, while down 16 percent for the year, have been increasing
in the latter two quarters).
The remaining world regions generally showed improvement in September
that carried into quarterly and year-to-date comparisons.
||Third Qtr ‘03
Top Visitor Markets:
Canadian travel to the U.S. took an unexpected drop of 7.9 percent
in September, following a 0.7 percent gain in August. Arrivals were down
3.4 percent for the third quarter, and down 3.7 percent overall for the
first nine months of 2003. For the year a total of 9.95 million visitors
arrived from Canada, about 380 thousand less than last year. Performance
does not appear to be trending with the generally weaker U.S. Dollar during
the year (from $1.54 in January to $1.36 in September) nor the modest
economic growth (GDP up over 3 percent for 2003).
Mexican arrivals declined by less than 1 percent in September following
a 4.4 percent drop in August. Third quarter results were flat compared
with what appears to have been the rather erratic behavior earlier in
the year, i.e., first quarter was down 27 percent while second quarter
increased by over 19 percent (partially explained by the “Easter
effect”. Year-to-date, 2.8 million Mexican arrivals visited the
U.S., down 2.9 percent from last year, some 83,000 less visitors. In general,
performance appears to be linked, at least in part, to the stronger U.S.
U.K. arrivals grew by 4.5 percent in September boosting third quarter
results by 2.7 percent following a 5.9 percent increase in the second
quarter and a 2.3 percent drop in the first quarter (note: part of the
offsets from March (1Q) to April (2Q) appear to be due to Easter). A total
of 2.8 million U.K. visitors came to the U.S. through the first nine months,
up by about 60,000 visitors, or 2.3 percent.
A continuing sluggish economy (1 percent GDP growth) combined with the
effects of the Iraqi war and SARS severely impacted the number of Japanese
arrivals to the United States since May of this year.
Arrivals from Japan declined by 6.8 percent in September. The third quarter
results were down by 11.7 percent, a vast improvement from the 37 percent
decline in second quarter. On a year-to-date basis, arrivals totaled over
2.2 million, down by 17.8 percent from 2002, approximately 480 thousand
The number of German travelers declined by 2.8 percent for the year through
September. There were 863 thousand arrivals, approximately 25,000 fewer
than last year. For the month of September there was an unexpected drop
in arrivals of 4.8 percent. This may have been tied to, in part, a strengthening
of the U.S. Dollar to the Euro from June through August. Although third
quarter arrivals were down by 1.1 percent the period fared better than
the first and second quarters that were down 5.4 percent and 2.7 percent,
Arrivals to the U.S. from France totaled 515 thousand throughout the first
nine months of the year, about 42,000 fewer travelers than last year,
representing a 7.6% drop. September traffic was down 5.5 percent contributing
to a 6.9 percent decline for the third quarter. The recent quarter’s
performance was a marked improvement over the second quarter drop of 16.2
For the first nine months of the year over 482,000 travelers visited the
U.S. from South Korea, some 9,000, or 1.8 percent, less than in 2002.
September traffic was up 2.2 percent, marking the fourth consecutive month
of positive growth, contributing to a 3.9 percent gain in the third quarter.
The recent quarter’s performance was an improvement over the second
quarter decline of 8 percent. Ironically, during second quarter, June
arrival growth of 1.8 percent qualified South Korea as one of the 3 top
Australian visitors to the U.S. totaled 297 thousand, down 3.2 percent,
or almost 10,000 less than during the first nine months of 2002. Arrivals
in September were flat, as was the third quarter performance after two
successive negative quarters, down 2.1 percent and down 7.4 percent, respectively.
During nine months of the year 294 thousand Italian tourists entered the
U.S., about 5,000, or 1.8 percent, less than last year. September’s
arrivals, up 12.9 percent, marks the second consecutive month of double-digit
growth (August was up 19.2 percent). The resulting third quarter was a
positive 2.5 percent, up from the second quarter decline of 13.8 percent.
There were 274 thousand visitors from the Netherlands through September
of this year, down about 10,000, or 3.3 percent. Arrivals in were up 1.2
percent in September and the third quarter, the first positive quarterly
growth this year (arrivals were down 0.4 percent and 10.5 percent in the
first and second quarters).
Over 250 thousand travelers came to the U.S. from Brazil during the nine
months of 2003, down 21.5 percent, or over 68,000 visitors. September
traffic was up 9.1 percent following a 1.7 percent increase in August
– the only positive growth for the year, reversing a trend of double-digit
decreases. While the third quarter was still down, 6.5 percent, it showed
a marked improvement over the first two quarters, down 27.5 percent and
29.9 percent, respectively. So at this point the recent performance met
expectations as reported last time. According to the Brazilian Travel
Barometer the Brazilian trade is optimistic for modest gains in travel
demand for the third and fourth quarter of 2003.
About 205 thousand visitors, originating from Spain, came to the U.S.
during the first 3 quarters of 2003. Travel was up 2.3 percent, or almost
5,000 visitors during this period. Visitations were up 15.4 percent in
September, following a 10.6 percent gain in August. Third quarter results
were up by 6 percent, outpacing the previous two quarters, one percent
up in the first and a 2 percent drop in the second.
PRC & Hong Kong:
Slightly over 201 thousand visitors came from the PRC/Hong Kong during
the year. This was down 30.2 percent, or 87,000 visitors, from the same
period last year. September’s results were the “least negative”,
down 8.4 percent, helping to move third quarter to a negative 18.3 percent.
While the year started out on a positive note (January was up 1.1 percent)
every successive month suffered double-digit declines until September.
TOP PORTS JANUARY-SEPTEMBER 2003
In addition to tracking arrivals to the country, on a monthly basis,
OTTI also has data on arrivals for over 40 ports of entry. A brief analysis
is presented on the top 15 ports for overseas arrivals for the first nine
months of 2003. Within the report OTTI issues using this database, arrivals
are tracked for the top 40 ports by all world regions and 30 countries.
-Arrivals at the top 15 ports-of-entry accounted for 85 percent of all
overseas arrivals in the January-September 2003 time frame. Total overseas
arrivals, year-to-date were down 8.6 percent approximating the decline
at the top port level. The top three ports-of-entry (New York - JFK, Miami
and Los Angeles) accounted for 37 percent of all overseas arrivals to
-New York's JFK Airport, Chicago O'Hare, Newark, Boston and Detroit all
registered declines of less than the national average. Orlando and Sanford,
Florida Airports were the top 15 airports that posted increases in arrivals
year-to-date 2003. Agana, Guam continued to register the largest contraction,
-New York JFK held on as the leading port of entry year-over-year, maintaining
its lead over Miami for the last four months. Chicago held onto position
five and Newark moved up one rank into seventh place. Washington D.C.
displaced Atlanta from position nine. Sanford moved back up to position
thirteen displacing Detroit.
Arrivals at the top 15 ports-of-entry for January-September 2003 show
that while total overseas arrivals for the first nine months were down
8.6 percent, the specific changes were different at the port level. Destinations
can monitor visitation changes by tracking the port activity through which
most visitors pass to each state or city within the United States.
The above analysis is a synopsis of the world regions and the top markets
generating arrivals to the United States. Arrival statistics for the top
countries and world regions may be accessed on-line from the monthly section
of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
(OTTI) web site at: https://travel.trade.gov/research/monthly/arrivals/index.html
Once on this page, there are numerous links to tables that provide arrivals
for the top arrival markets to the United States. Please take a look at
each of the links available.
The monthly Summary of International Travel to the U.S. report
has approximately 30 tables that provide data on monthly and year-to-date
arrivals to the country. The report provides data on approximately 90
countries each month and over 40 ports-of-entry. Numerous breakouts are
provided by world region and ?? countries for the port tables as well.
To learn more about this program, please go to: http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/research/programs/i94/index.html
If you would like to purchase the monthly international arrival reports
for 2002 and 2003, please go to: https://travel.trade.gov/research/reports/i94/upcoming/index.html