The economic importance of inbound travel to the travel industry and the U.S. economy was underscored by a recent U.S. Department of Commerce report on international visits to the U.S. International visits to the U.S. totaled 39 million during the first nine months of 2008, an increase of 8 percent over the same period in 2007. The international visitors spent $108.4 billion from January through September 2008, an increase of 22 percent over the first nine months of 2007.
The Department of Commerce notes, however, that in September 2008 the total visitation was 4.1 million, flat when compared to September 2007. In September 2008, visitors spent $12.4 billion, an increase of 16 percent over September 2007. Overseas (excluding Canada and Mexico) arrivals increased 5 percent in September and 9 percent year-to-date. Visitation from overseas markets has grown for 17 consecutive months, the Department says.
Other highlights of the report include:
* Year-to-date 2008, Canadian visitation grew nearly 12 percent over the same period in 2007 driven by land arrivals, up 12 percent. At the same time, air arrivals increased 11 percent.
* Arrivals from Mexico (traveling to interior U.S. points) decreased 6 percent during the first nine months of 2008. Land arrivals decreased 7 percent and air arrivals for the year were down 5 percent.
* Visitation from Western Europe was up 11 percent for September and 17 percent year-to-date, accounting for 48 percent of overseas arrivals.
* Arrivals from the United Kingdom were down one percent in September and up 14 percent year-to-date. Visitors from the United Kingdom accounted for 37 percent of all Western European arrivals.
* Year-to-date, German arrivals increased 20 percent, French arrivals grew 28 percent, and Italian arrivals were up 29 percent, continuing growth trends from 2007. For the first eight months of 2008, visitation from the Netherlands grew 26 percent. At the same time, visitors from Spain and Ireland grew 36 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Arrivals from Sweden and Switzerland were up 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively, for the year.
* Visitation from Asia decreased 1 percent year-to-date. Japanese arrivals decreased 6 percent year-to-date. Japan accounts for 51 percent of all Asian visitors for the year. Year-to-date, arrivals from South Korea decreased over two percent. India and China grew 9 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Taiwanese visitation decreased nearly 4 percent in the first nine months of 2008.
* Arrivals from South America were up nearly 14 percent year-to-date. Year-to-date, double-digit growth in visitation was observed from Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina. From South America, top arrivals were from Brazil, accounting for 30 percent of arrivals from the region.
* Visitation from the Caribbean area decreased 8 percent year-to-date. Air arrivals from the Caribbean were also down seven percent for the year. During the first eight months of 2008, there was a 14 percent decrease in arrivals from the Dominican Republic, a 7 percent decline from Jamaica, and a 29 percent drop from the Bahamas.
* Travel from Oceania increased 5 percent year-to-date. Australia registered a 6 percent expansion year-to-date. Year-to-date, Australia accounted for nearly 81 percent of all arrivals from Oceania. Central American arrivals increased nearly 1 percent year-to-date. Arrivals from the Middle East increased 10 percent year-to-date. For the first nine months of 2008, Israel’s visitation increased 6 percent. Eastern European arrivals grew 15 percent year-to-date. Russian visitation increased 28 percent for the first nine months of 2008. African visitation was up 16 percent year-to-date.