U.S. Tourism Off to Weak Start in 2009

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that 3.1 million international visitors traveled to the U.S. in January 2009, a decrease of 9 percent compared to January 2008. International visitors spent $10.6 billion in January 2009, a 7 percent decrease compared to January 2008.

International Arrivals to the United States

 In January 2009, Canadian visitation totaled 1.1 million, down more than 12 percent. At the same time, land arrivals (584 thousand) decreased more than 16 percent and air arrivals (565 thousand) decreased eight percent.

Arrivals from Mexico totaled 405 thousand, decreasing 4 percent in January 2009. For the month, land arrivals (308 thousand) were up 2 percent and air arrivals (94 thousand) decreased 16 percent.

Overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico) totaled 1.5 million in January 2009, down nearly 8 percent.

In January 2009, four of the top 20 countries posted increases in visitation to the U.S., with two of these countries growing at a double-digit growth rate.

Brazil’s arrivals increased 5 percent in January 2009, continuing its growth trend from June 2006 (32 months of consecutive increases).

China’s arrivals to the U.S. increased 37 percent in January 2009, continuing its growth trend from March 2006 (35 months of consecutive increases). 

Visitation from Italy increased 6 percent in January 2009. Travel from Italy grew from October 2006 through October 2008 (25 months of consecutive increases). In November 2008, Italy’s visitation declined nearly 1 percent compared to November 2007, but then increased again in December 2008 (+8 percent).

Argentina’s arrivals increased 19 percent in January 2009, continuing its growth trend from August 2006 (30 months of consecutive increases).

Of the top 20 countries, 16 countries reported decreases in visitation to the U.S.

Details of Overseas Visitation

U.S. visitation from the 27 European Union countries declined 11 percent in January 2009. At the same time, arrivals from Western Europe, 568 thousand visitors, were down 12 percent and accounted for 37 percent of overseas arrivals. 

In January 2009, arrivals from the United Kingdom were down 20 percent. Visitors from the United Kingdom accounted for 35 percent of all Western European arrivals. 

In January 2009, German arrivals decreased 10 percent (the previous 20 months posted consecutive increases) and French arrivals declined 3 percent (the previous 27 months posted consecutive increases). At the same time, Italian arrivals were up 6 percent. 

Also in January 2009, visitation from the Netherlands decreased 14 percent, visitors from Spain declined 5 percent (the previous 33 months posted consecutive increases), and arrivals from Ireland dropped 21 percent. For the month, arrivals from Sweden were down 11 percent (the previous 27 months posted consecutive increases) and arrivals from Switzerland were down 2 percent (the previous 33 months posted consecutive increases). 

Eastern European arrivals grew 5 percent in January 2009. 

Russian arrivals were up 10 percent over January 2008 and Polish visitation decreased 10 percent. 

Visitation from Asia decreased nine percent in January 2009, but still accounted for 31 percent of overseas arrivals. 

Japanese arrivals decreased 13 percent in January 2009, accounting for 49 percent of all Asian visitors for the month. In January 2009, arrivals from South Korea decreased 17 percent. At the same time, Taiwanese visitation decreased 11 percent. 

The emerging market India declined 12 percent in January 2009, while the People’s Republic of China grew 37 percent. 

Arrivals from South America, accounting for 13 percent of overseas arrivals, were up four percent in January 2009. 

Visitation from Brazil, the region’s top market, accounting for 42 percent of all arrivals, increased five percent in January 2009. Between June 2006 and January 2009, Brazil posted 32 straight months of increases in arrivals to the U.S. 

Double-digit growth in visitation was recorded from Argentina (+19 percent). At the same time, visitation from Venezuela declined 3 percent in January 2009 (the previous eight months posted consecutive increases). 

Visitation from the Caribbean area increased 3 percent in January 2009. 

In January 2009, there was a 10 percent decrease in arrivals from the Dominican Republic, the top arrivals market from this region. 
Travel from Oceania decreased 15 percent in January 2009. 

Australia, accounting for 84 percent of all arrivals from Oceania, registered a 15 percent decline for the month. 

Central American arrivals in January 2009 were down 8 percent. 

Arrivals from the Middle East decreased 4 percent in January 2009. 
Israel’s visitation to the U.S. decreased 17 percent in January 2009, while African visitation was about the same as arrivals in January 2008.  

To access the 2008 annual and monthly arrivals data for world regions and top markets, visit

Top Ports

In January 2009, overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico) were down nearly 8 percent. Arrivals through the top 15 ports of entry accounted for 87.5 percent of all overseas arrivals, more than 1 percent higher than last year. 

The top three ports of entry (Miami, New York JFK, and Los Angeles) accounted for 40.5 percent of all overseas arrivals, up 1.6 percentage-points from January 2008.

Ten of the top 15 ports posted decreases in arrivals in January 2009. Arrivals decreased by double digits through five of the ports. 

In January 2009, arrivals through Miami increased 6 percent, moving the port into first place and displacing New York JFK into the second position. Arrivals through the Newark airport decreased 20 percent in January 2009, moving it into seventh position behind San Francisco and Agana, Guam

With arrivals through Ft. Lauderdale increasing 22 percent, this port moved into 13th position ahead of Detroit and Dallas. In addition to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, three other airports that ranked in the top 15 ports posted increases in January 2009 - Orlando (+10 percent), Houston (+3 percent), and Dallas/Ft. Worth (+4 percent).

Arrivals to the U.S. by port-of-entry are tracked on a monthly basis. The U.S. Department of Commerce has arrival data on more than 40 U.S. ports-of-entry from all world regions and 30 countries, with a brief analysis presented on the top 15 ports for overseas arrivals in 2009.

This 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 United States. The report provides data on approximately 90 countries each month and more than 40 ports of entry. Numerous breakouts are provided by world region and country for the port tables as well.

To find out more about this program, go to: www.tinet.ita.doc.gov/research/programs/i94/index.html.

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