International Arrivals to the United States For Third Quarter Year to Date 2006

The U.S. welcomed 13.1 million international visitors in the third quarter of 2006 and 32.9 million during the first nine months. This was an increase of six percent and five percent, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2005. Eleven of the top20 origin markets recorded gains for the first nine months.

Total international arrivals (non-resident travelers originating overseas, Canada and Mexico) to the U.S. have registered six successive months of positive growth starting with the April 2006. Arrivals were down by eight percent in March 2006, an anomaly due to the shift of Easter holiday traffic (April in 2006 vs. March in 2005.) The impact of the March ‘decline’ was significant in the Overseas and Mexican markets.  (A year over year percentage change timeline is presented in the graphs below). Only two major regions – Canada and Mexico- have contributed, on balance, to the overall growth in international arrivals this year.

Total International Arrivals

Overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico) were generally a negative factor to the overall growth in international tourism during the first nine months. Overseas arrivals totaled 6.2 million in the third quarter and 16.1 million year-to-date, down almost one percent, respectively. Monthly contributions were negative for six of the nine months of 2006, starting in February.

Overseas Arrivals

Overseas travel to the U.S. increased from Eastern Europe, Middle East, Oceania, South America and the Caribbean in 2006. Visitation from Western Europe and Asia, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all overseas arrivals, were both in decline for the year.
Western European arrivals totaled 7.1 million, down four percent in 2006. Monthly arrivals were down in seven of the nine months. The impact from the U.K. and Germany (see country synopsis, below), accounting for 58 percent of the arrivals from the region, was visible.

Asian travelers totaled 4.7 million for 2006, down one percent. Monthly were down in five of the nine months. Japan, the major driver in this region (see country synopsis, below), declined five percent during 2006. However, gains were realized from South Korea, PRC/Hong Kong and India.

South American visitation, registering 1.4 million arrivals during 2006, was up four percent. Brazil, up eight percent, was among the strong performers in the region (see country analysis, below). Argentina, another Mercosur member, also demonstrated solid growth, up nine percent for the first nine months. Even Venezuela and Colombia showed moderate growth of three percent and seven percent, respectively. 

The other overseas regions showed mixed results during the first nine months of 2006.

Travelers from:

#Arrivals (000)

% Change 06/05

Major Drivers




Bahamas/Jamaica up




Australia up 5%

Central America



El Salvador down 7%

Middle East



Turkey up 2%

Eastern Europe



CIS growth




South Africa

Top Origination Markets:

The top 20 markets, accounting for 87 percent of all international arrivals to the U.S. during the first nine months of 2006, showed mixed results, but as a group were up five percent.


Canadian arrivals totaled 5.2 million in the third quarter, an eight percent increase from third quarter2005. Arrivals for the nine months of 2006 totaled 12.6 million, up seven percent. Canadian arrivals-by-air also increased by seven percent during the year as did ground arrivals.

Canadaian Arrivals


During the first nine months, arrivals to the U.S. interior* totaled 4.1 million, up 28 percent. The notable fluctuation in March and April arrivals (see graph), due to the Easter holiday shift, had its effect on quarterly comparisons. For example, 1Q increased by five percent and 2Q increased by 53 percent.  March-April combined comparison disclosed an average 29 percent increase for the two month period. Of total Mexican arrivals to the U.S. interior, in the nine months of 2006, 30 percent arrived by air. However, air arrivals were up only two percent from 2005, which was basically forecasted by the U.S. Department of Commerce Mexico Travel Barometer Survey. Land traffic increased by 44 percent September year-to-date.

Mexican Arrivals
(U.S. *Interior is North of the 40-kilometer border zone in the U.S.)

It is interesting that of the following 18 overseas countries, 10 are part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and eight are not. Of the 10 VWP countries, only three showed growth during the nine months of 2006. However, of the eight non-VWP countries six showed growth during the same period.

United Kingdom:

U.K. visitation totaled 3.1 million for the nine months of 2006, down four percent, and generally exhibiting a monthly pattern of decline, much in line with the forecast of the U.S. Department of Commerce U.K Travel Barometer Survey. Arrivals in the first quarter dropped 11 percent. The second quarter was flat, followed by a three percent decline for the third quarter. Even with an eight percent gain in April, due in part to the seasonal shift in Easter, the two months of March-April were down five percent year-over-year.

The U.K. accounted for 43 percent of all arrivals from Western Europe during the nine months of 2006.

UK Arrivals


Japanese visitation totaled 2.8 million for the nine months of 2006, down five percent from 2005.
Arrivals from Japan accounted for 59 percent of all Asian visitors, down from 62 percent in 2005.
With the exception of growth in January and March, arrivals have been trending downward during the year.

Refer to the:
US-Japan Tourism Export Expansion Initiative

Japanese Arrivals


German visitation totaled 1.05 million, down three percent, for the nine months of 2006. Arrivals only showed positive growth during three months of the year. March-April, normalizing for Easter, was up three percent.

The U.S. Department of Commerce U.K. Travel Barometer projected flat to modest growth for the summer. The FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, hosted by Germany, contributed to a decline in outbound travel from Germany to the U.S.

German Arrivals

South Korea:

South Korea is the top origin market of non-visa waiver program countries.
Visitation totaled 590,000 during the nine months of 2006, up almost seven percent. Arrivals grew by seven percent in the first quarter, three percent in the second and nine percent in the third quarter. South Korea moved ahead of France in the number of arrivals to the U.S.


Arrivals to the U.S. from France totaled 584,000 during the nine months of 2006, down 14 percent. This is an abrupt reversal of the arrival pattern in 2005, which was up 13 percent from the previous year. Declines in 2006 were down 15 percent, 18 percent and 11 percent, respectively, for the three quarters.


Australian visitation during the first nine months totaled 453,000, up five percent. This follows on the strong double-digit growth in 2005, up 12 percent, and in 2004, up 28 percent. Arrivals grew by one percent in the first quarter, and six percent in both the second and third quarters.


Italian visitation totaled 389,000 for the nine months of 2006, down eight percent from the same period in 2005. As with France, this was an abrupt reversal of the arrival pattern in 2005, which was up16 percent from the previous year. The negative pattern in 2006 appears to be mitigating somewhat since the declines have been 12 percent, seven percent and five percent for the three quarters to date.


Brazilian arrivals totaled 386,000 for the nine months of 2006, up eight percent. Growth in visitations slowed throughout the year, up 18 percent, five percent and three percent for the first three quarters. While showing solid growth it is under 2005’s growth rate of 26 percent. Brazil, a non-visa waiver country moved farther ahead of the Netherlands in total arrivals, due to the growth in arrivals from China, another non-visa waiver country, and negative growth from the Netherlands.

PRC & Hong Kong:

Arrivals from PRC totaled 240,000, up 19 percent, and from Hong Kong, 110,000, up one percent. As a combined entity, visitation totaled 350,000, up 13 percent for the nine months of 2006. The combined growth rate increased over the year, up nine percent, 13 percent and 15 percent for the three quarters of 2006.

For information on the U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism please see:


Dutch visitation totaled 331,000, down two percent for the nine months of 2006. Reversing course from 2005, when arrivals were up six percent, a decline of one percent was noted in the first quarter 2006. Arrivals were also down six percent in the second quarter but went flat in the third quarter.


Historically, Indian visitation is at its highest level. To date in 2006 visitation totaled 320,000, up 13 percent from the first nine months of 2005. Also a non-visa waiver country, India moved ahead of Spain in arrivals during the three quarters of 2006. A new “open-skies” agreement between the U.S. and India in 2005, accounting for more non-stop air service, has undoubtedly helped this market develop.


Following the solid growth in 2005, which was up 16 percent, the U.S. welcomed 311,000 Spaniards in the first nine months of 2006, up eight percent. Unlike other Western European countries, visitation from Spain grew in the double digits during the second and third quarters, up 17 percent and twelve percent.


Visitation from Ireland totaled 282,000 in the first nine months of 2006, up two percent. Although modest growth, visitation from Ireland is trending at its highest historical level.


Venezuelan arrivals totaled 250,000, up three percent for the nine months of 2006. This growth rate is consistent with the market growth for all of 2005. Both Venezuelan and Colombian visitation moved ahead of arrivals from Taiwan.


Colombian arrivals totaled 247,000, up almost seven percent during the nine months of 2006. Quarterly growth levels were up one percent, 18 percent and down one percent. Peak months were January and March-April.

It is notable that the visitation growth rates from Colombia and Venezuela are more uneven and at lower rates, than from Brazil and Argentina.

Taiwan (ROC):

Taiwanese arrivals totaled 245,000 for the nine months of 2006, down six percent. Starting out on a positive note, up two percent in the first quarter, arrivals declined eight percent in the next two quarters.  According to the Monthly Statistics on Tourism report for September 06 year-to-date, issued by the Tourism Bureau – Ministry of Transportation and Communications, R.O.C., it appears the more visited destinations were intra-Asia, up six percent (i.e., Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea) and to a lesser degree, the USA.


Israeli visitation, totaling 213,000, was down two percent and yet accounted for 50 percent of all arrivals from the Middle East. Interestingly enough, arrivals to the U.S. from Lebanon, 11,900, increased four percent.


Arrivals totaled 204,000, down four percent from the first nine months of 2005. First quarter arrivals were down 13 percent followed by one percent increases in the second and third quarters.

Further Information:

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:

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, countries and for the port tables as well.  To learn more about this program, please go to:

If you would like to purchase the monthly international arrival reports for 2003, please go to: