Strong International Travel Growth to U.S. Forecast

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) projects international travel to the United States will continue experiencing strong growth through 2018, based on the National Travel and Tourism Office’s 2014 Spring Travel Forecast.

Visitor volume in 2014 is expected to increase 3.6 percent and reach 72.2 million visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States. This growth would build on the 4.6 percent increase in arrivals in 2013, which resulted in a record 69.8 million visitors.

According to the current forecast, the United States would see 3.4 percent to 4.1 percent annual growth rates in visitor volume over the 2014-2018 timeframe. By 2018 this growth would produce 83.8 million visitors, a 20 percent increase, and more than 14 million additional visitors compared to 2013. The latest forecast produces a compound annual growth rate over the forecast period of 3.7%. This rate is slightly lower than the rate in the Fall 2013 Travel Forecast due to underperforming growth from some key markets – most notably Canada and Mexico.

All top-20 visitor origin countries are forecast to grow from 2013 through 2018. Countries with the largest total growth percentages are China (139%), Colombia (56%), India (54%), Taiwan (52%), Brazil (50%), and Argentina (48%).

Four countries are expected to account for 59 percent of the projected growth from 2013 through 2018. These volume growth leaders are Canada (23% of expected total growth), China (18%), Mexico (11%), and Brazil (7%). Although China and Brazil continue to get the bulk of media attention because of their consistent and very high growth rates, the traditional top origin countries will dictate actual volume growth and the ultimate accuracy of the forecast. For example, despite a small 3.0% growth rate, Canada produced a greater number of additional travelers in 2013 compared to the previous year than China and Brazil combined.

If the Spring 2014 Travel Forecast is realized through 2018, the current top-ten countries remain as such, but China will move from #7 in 2013 to #4 in 2018, while Japan, Brazil, and German all slip down one place in the ranking. Outside the top ten, Columbia, Argentina, and Venezuela would each move up in ranking by pushing Italy from #12 in 2013 to #15 in 2018. Taiwan, which re-entered the top 20 in 2013, would move up from #20 to #18.

The U.S. travel forecast was prepared by research staff in the Department of Commerce/National Travel and Tourism Office using economic/demographic/social factors, DOC historical visitation trends, input from the DOC Foreign Commercial Service staff abroad, and numerous other miscellaneous sources. The NTTO travel forecast is updated in the spring and fall each year.

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