The U.S. Department of Commerce today released travel and tourism data on annual 2012 arrivals, and a new forecast that suggests continued strong growth in arrivals through 2018, following a record-breaking year for international travel and tourism arrivals and spending in 2012.
International travel and tourism spending reached a record $168.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2011. The increase was the result of a surge in international visitors to the United States: in 2012, a record 67.0 million international visitors came to the United States, an increase of 4.3 million from the year before.
Highlights of the 2012 arrivals data show that Canadian visitors set a record with 22.7 million visitors, up 6 percent. Mexico was second with a record 14.5 million arrivals, up 8 percent. The U.K., (-2 percent), Japan (+14 percent), and Germany (+3 percent) rounded out the top five.
Countries among the top 20 with the largest increase in 2012 from the previous year were: China (+35 percent), Colombia (+21 percent), Venezuela and Argentina (both up +20 percent), and Brazil (+ 19 percent). All five countries set records for visits to the United States in 2012.
“This is good news as we continue to focus on a variety of efforts to boost travel and tourism to the United States. Increasing international visitors helps grow our economy and create more jobs,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “These results show that the President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy are working as the Administration continues to focus its efforts to make America more welcoming to visitors from all around the world.”
The National Travel and Tourism Strategy establishes an overarching goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors, who we estimate will spend $250 billion, annually by the end of 2021.
According to the Commerce Department forecast, the United States can expect an average of 4 percent annual growth in tourism during the next six years, and this year, 69.6 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the United States.
Tourists from all world regions are forecast to grow during the period. The total growth during the six years, and the corresponding compound average annual growth rate (CAGR) ranges from a low for the Caribbean (+1 percent; 0 percent CAGR), to a high for the Middle East (+67 percent; 9 percent CAGR). Asia (+60 percent; 8 percent CAGR), South America (+52 percent; 7 percent CAGR), and Eastern Europe (+40 percent; 6 percent CAGR), are forecast to be the other fastest growth regions generating visitors to the country.
All but one of the top-40 visitor origin countries are forecast to grow from 2012 through 2018 (Spain is the exception). Countries with the largest total growth percentages are China (+229 percent; 22 percent CAGR), Saudi Arabia (+191 percent; 20 percent CAGR), Russia (+79 percent; 10 percent), Brazil (+66 percent; 9 percent CAGR), Argentina (+65 percent; 9 percent CAGR), Colombia (+54 percent; 7 percent CAGR), India (+43 percent; 6 percent CAGR), Korea (+43 percent; 6 percent CAGR), Taiwan (+40 percent; 6 percent), and Australia (+39 percent; 6 percent).
North America is expected to account for the largest proportion of the total visitor growth of 7.4 million visitors (42 percent). Asia (+29 percent), South America (+13 percent) Western Europe (+8 percent), account for the bulk of the remaining 58 percent of total growth in visitor volume forecast in 2018 compared to 2012 actual volume.