1999 Monthly Tourism
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1999 International Arrivals to the United States - Annual
1999 International Arrivals to the United States

A record 48.5 million international travelers visited the United States in1999. Canada's stronger economy, a recovering Asia, and Western Europe's relatively steady economic growth, all played a major role in the stronger than expected 5 percent growth in 1999 arrivals to the United States. According to the World Tourism Organization the United States had one of the highest growth rates among the top visited countries in 1999.

Overseas growth was up by 3 percent, totaling 24.5 million arrivals. The overseas arrivals for two years standing comprised 51 percent of the total international arrivals to the United States.

Canadian arrivals reached 14 million in 1999, with a better than expected 5 percent growth for 1999, after two years of negative performance. Over the past eight years this is only the second period of growth experienced in Canadian arrivals to the United States. The 1999 increase occurred despite minimal gain in the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar. The growth can be attributable to combined factors of faster growth in real GDP for 1999 (3.6 percent) compared to growth in 1998 (3.1 percent), record low unemployment rates, and increased consumer confidence.

Mexican total arrivals for 1999 were 10 million, up 7 percent compared to the previous year. Mexican arrivals to the U.S. interior grew by 6 percent, totaling 5.2 million arrivals, while border arrivals grew by 8 percent, totaling 4.7 million. The growth in arrivals could be primarily explained by the appreciation of the Mexican peso against the US dollar in 1999.

Shifts in the Overseas Market Rankings
Japan remained the top overseas arrivals market for the United States in 1999. However, after two years of declining arrivals, Japan lost a lot of ground to the United Kingdom in 1999. The United Kingdom is now trailing Japan by only half a million arrivals, compared to almost a million last year. Germany and France maintained their 3rd and 4th position, respectively, with solid arrivals growth.

Brazil's sharp decline in arrivals threatened its ranking, almost losing its 5th position to Italy with a margin of less than 40,000 arrivals. Venezuelan arrivals maintained its ranking as the 7th largest overseas arrivals market. The Netherlands continued to improve its position to 8th place by narrowly displacing Argentina, now the 9th top overseas arrivals market.

South Korea's double digit growth in 1999 moved its rank from 15th place in 1998 to 10th place in 1999. This increase, however, has not made up for the ground lost in 1998. South Korea's movement in rank displaced Australia, Taiwan, Colombia, in addition to Switzerland, People's Republic of China and Hong Kong. Despite rank displacement of Australia, Taiwan, and Colombia, arrivals from these countries increased by 5 percent, 17 percent, and 13 percent respectively.

Top Overseas Market Performance
Japanese arrivals were slightly down by 1 percent for year-end 1999 with total arrivals of 4.8 million. The decline was not quite as severe as expected in part due to increased consumer spending in the second quarter and a slight recovery in business confidence. However unemployment continued to rise, incomes fell, and the value of the yen, as of July, had depreciated by 10 percent from 1998.

British arrivals were higher than our forecasts for 1999 reaching 4.3 million, up 7 percent compared to the previous year. British arrivals continued to have a strong steady growth rate compared to 1998. The United States has enjoyed growth in this market for the last 5 years. The larger than expected growth rate in arrivals may be attributable to the stronger GDP growth rate in the third and fourth quarters combined with a low unemployment rate.

German arrivals were right on target with our forecast for 1999, up 4 percent, almost reaching 2 million, after two years of negative performance. There was an increase in arrivals despite the slower growth in real GDP, which could be reflected in the decrease in the average length of nights stayed per trip of 17 nights for 1999 compared to an average of 21 nights per trip for 1998.

French arrivals had a 5 percent growth rate, totaling 1.1 million in 1999 - one percentage point faster than the record year of 1998. There was growth in arrivals despite the slower 1999 GDP growth rate. An explanation for the growth could be due to the fact that in 1999 travelers on business and those visiting friends and relatives grew in importance, while there was a slight decrease in leisure travel as a main purpose of trip when compared to 1998.

Brazilian arrivals fell by 27 percent in 1999. Despite this sharp drop, Brazil remained the 5th largest overseas market with 665,000 arrivals. The heavy devaluation of the "real" impacted Brazilian travel to the U.S. substantially in 1999. However, the Brazilian economy actually performed better throughout 1999 than expected. In past years Brazilian travelers to the U.S. were better prepared for the ups-and downs of the fluctuating economy and were able to continue to travel even during down turns. In 1999 however, the economic crisis was more of a surprise than in past years which impacted travel more severely.

Italian arrivals were up 3 percent, slightly less than the 5 percent growth in 1998. The slower growth could be due to slower growth in GDP in 1999 compared to the previous year.

World Regional Overall Market Performance
Analyzing the arrivals through a regional perspective reveals the role that some of the smaller or secondary economies play.

Record Western European arrivals totaled 11 million in 1999, an increase of 6 percent over the previous year, marking 5 years of growth. Western Europe's growth can be mainly attributable to increased in British, French and German arrivals, which account for 67 percent of the Western European arrivals in 1999. This, however, does not discount the solid growth in secondary Western European markets such as Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Belgium. The only negative results for Western European arrivals came from Switzerland, down 1 percent, Greece and Luxemburg, both down 2 percent. Eastern European arrivals were down 1 percent compared to the previous year, totaling 395,757 for 1999.

Economic recovery in Asia, which began in 1999, stimulated Asian arrivals for 1999. Total Asian arrivals were up 3 percent compared to a double digit drop in 1998 (down 13 percent).

The smaller Asian economies such as South Korea and Taiwan played a major role in the growth of Asian arrivals for 1999. Both increased by double digits, up 37 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared to 1998 arrivals. Despite the solid growth in 1999 both markets did not fully recover from the dramatic declines in 1998. The increase in arrivals could be attributable to the rising consumer confidence concurrent with regional economic recovery in Taiwan. South Korea experienced increased consumer spending and the appreciation of the Won against the dollar. Arrivals from the Peoples Republic of China and Hong Kong were down by 9 percent for 1999, which could be a reflection of the economic and political instability they are experiencing as they adjust to a consolidated political regime. As a combined economy China totaled 384,086 visitors in 1999, ranking it the fourth largest market in Asia.

In the smaller European economies, Dutch arrivals were up by 8 percent while Swiss arrivals were down by 1 percent. Spanish arrivals grew by double digits, up 11 percent for 1999, and Swedish arrivals grew by 4 percent.

South American arrivals were down by 8 percent while Central American and Caribbean arrivals grew by 5 percent and 8 percent. Venezuelan arrivals grew by 2 percent for 1999, much slower than the 11 percent growth in 1998. Argentine arrivals were down by 4 percent while Colombian arrivals were up 13 percent. Brazilís economic crisis was a key contributor to the overall South American decline.

Arrivals from Oceania (defined as the islands in the south, west, and central Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, and others) grew in 1999 by 5 percent, nearly a full recovery from the previous yearís decline. This growth came mainly from the 5 percent growth in Australian arrivals and 2 percent growth in arrivals from New Zealand.

Arrivals from the Middle East and Africa both grew in 1999 by 7 percent and 6 percent, totaling 625,356 and 274,033 respectively. Growth for African arrivals were slower (up 10 percent in 1998) while growth from Middle Eastern arrivals were steady compared to 1998, mostly due to a 5 percent increase in arrivals from Israel.

Grand Total 48,491,187 4.5
Canada* 14,110,000 5.1
Mexico* 9,915,000 6.9
Overseas 24,466,187 3.2
In Rank Order
Japan 4,826,077 -1.2
United Kingdom 4,252,160 7.0
Germany 1,984,627 4.3
France 1,059,014 4.5
Brazil 665,013 -26.9
Italy 626,217 2.5
Venezuela 552,225 2.1
Netherlands 526,819 7.5
Argentina 501,660 -4.2
South Korea 498,643 37.0
Australia 483,157 4.9
Taiwan 453,299 17.3
Colombia 415,724 13.0
Switzerland 405,626 -1.3
PRC & Hong Kong 384,086 -9.0
   Hong Kong 192,911 -9.4
Spain 362,848 11.2
Sweden 314,258 4.4
Israel 283,306 5.0

Note: The arrivals data are available on a monthly basis through the Tourism Industries office "Summary of International Travel to the United States. You can purchase this report via our web site: www.tinet.ita.doc.gov, or by calling 202-482-1129 and ask for Michelle Greenberg.

*Canada and Mexico arrivals are based on survey research and are therefore rounded to the nearest thousand.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, ITA, Tourism Industries; Statistics Canada; & Secretaria de Turismo (Mexico).