U.S. Commerce Dept: Continued Strong Rebound in International Travel to the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) projects international travel to the United States will continue experiencing strong growth through 2016.

Visitor volume is expected to increase 7 percent in 2011 and reach 64 million visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States. This growth would build on the 9 percent increase in arrivals in 2010, which resulted in a record 59.7 million visitors.

According to the current forecast, the United States would see 6 percent to 8 percent annual growth rates in visitor volume over the 2012-2016 time frame. By 2016 this growth would produce 89 million visitors, a 49 percent increase and an additional 29 million visitors compared to 2010.

All world regions are forecast to grow over the period, ranging from a low for the Middle East (+29%), to a high for South America (+83%), Asia (+82%), and Oceania (+82%). All but two of the top 40 visitor origin countries are forecast to grow from 2010 through 2016 (Ireland and Jamaica are the exceptions). Countries with the largest forecasted total growth percentages are China (+232%), South Korea (+200%), Brazil (+150%), Russian Federation (+139%), and India (+94%).

The North America world region will account for half (51%) of the total visitor growth of 29 million visitors. Asia (+20%), Western Europe (+12%), and South America (+9%) account for the bulk of the remaining 49% of total growth in visitor volume forecast in 2016 compared to 2010 actual volume.

Six countries are expected to account for three-fourths of the projected growth (+76%) from 2010 through 2016, including Canada (38%), Mexico (12%), South Korea (8%), China (6%), Brazil (6%), and the United Kingdom (5%). In fact, the expected growth from Canada would be larger than the total visitor volume for any other country in 2016, except Mexico.

The forecast considers the affect, beginning in 2012, that could result from the national marketing efforts by the new Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP), established by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (TPA). The CTP’s goal is to promote the United States as a premier travel destination to international travelers. Impacts are expected to be minimal in 2012 and increase progressively through 2016.

The U.S. travel forecast was prepared by staff in the Department of Commerce/Office of Travel & Tourism Industries using economic / demographic / social factors, Commerce historical visitation trends, input from the DOC Commercial Service staff abroad, and other sources.


Forecast Highlights by Region

North America: The top two markets generating visitors to the United States – Canada and Mexico – are forecast to increase in 2011 by 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively, and to grow by 56 and 27 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2016. Canada’s annual growth would build on the 2010 record of 20 million visitors and Mexico’s growth would establish new records beginning in 2012.

Europe: Visitors from Europe are expected to increase by 4 percent in 2011, followed by additional slow growth over the next five years. By 2016 arrivals from Europe are projected to be 33 percent higher than the 2010 total, largely because of anticipated strong TPA marketing impacts in the three end years of the forecast period. The other top European markets are forecast to grow around 2 to 5 percent in 2011. The highest growth in Europe will come from Sweden (+9%) and France (+10%). In contrast, and following a 23 percent decline in 2009 and a 12 percent decline in 2010, Ireland is forecasted to post an additional decline in 2011 (-5%) and remain essentially flat in visitation through 2016.

Asia-Pacific: Asia is projected to generate a visitor increase of 10 percent in 2011. After smaller increases initially, the region is projected to have larger increases over the next few years for a total 82 percent increase from 2010 to 2016. Japan, the largest Asian market and second-largest overseas market, is forecast to increase by 1 percent in 2011, decline in 2012, then return to low, but increasingly larger growth through 2016. Very high growth rates are expected for China (29%), South Korea (24%), and India (13%) in 2011. Similarly, these three countries are expected to have among the largest total growth rates of any country over the 2010-2016 timeframe. China is expected to increase a total of 232 percent through 2016, even more than South Korea (+200%) and India (+194%). Oceania is expected to post 17 percent growth in 2011, the largest of any region, and grow a total of 82 percent in visitors through 2016. Australia dominates the Oceania region and is projected to grow 16 percent in 2011 and 82 percent between 2010 and 2016.

South America: South America is projected to increase by 12 percent in 2011, the second largest growth rate of any region, and should remain a leader in arrivals growth rates for the next several years. By 2016 South America will generate nearly 6 million more visitors, an 83 percent increase compared to 2010. Brazil, the largest source market in the region, is expected to build on the 2010 record-breaking performance, and increase 18 percent in 2011 and produce 1.4 million visitors. By 2016 the United States could host a record 3.0 million Brazilian visitors, a 150% increase over 2010. Argentina is forecast to post an increase of 16 percent in 2011 and increase a total of 70 percent by 2016. Colombia should have solid growth over the forecast period (+7% to +8%), but growth from Venezuela is expected to be small each year of the forecast. 

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