Fewer US travelers fly abroad in 2009

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Initial figures released by the US Department of Commerce indicates that US international travel was down by 3 percent in 2009 from the year prior, posting a total of 38.7 million passengers. The most popular outbound destinations were Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and Mexico, although these markets showed decreases. On the upswing in growth were the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Oceania.

In the month of December 2009, the outbound air market increased one percent when compared to December 2008, reaching 3.5 million. US air travel abroad registered month-over-month increases in five out of the last six months of the year.

During the second-half of the year, air departures increased one percent as opposed to an eight percent decline in the first-half. Positive growth occurred in seven of the eight world regions, with Oceania, the Middle East, and Africa posting double-digit increases. But outbound travel to Canada and Mexico were both down six percent.

US spending in December 2009 by US travelers on foreign carrier passenger fares totaled US$2.3 billion, down 17 percent compared to December 2008. In 2009, spending by US travelers on air and vessel transportation decreased 20 percent to US$26.0 billion. Since passenger fare receipts (foreign travelers on US carriers) declined by 15 percent for the year, the balance of trade for passenger fares increased to an US$881 million surplus.

Highlights: US Citizen Air Traffic to Overseas Regions, Canada & Mexico

• Overseas markets remained down one percent for the year but grew two percent in December.

• Europe declined four percent for the year and decreased five percent for the month.

• Asia was down four percent for the year but grew three percent for the month.

• Canada decreased nine percent for the year and was down six percent for the month.

• The Caribbean decreased two percent for the year but increased seven percent in December.

• For the year, air traffic to Mexico decreased 11 percent. For the month, Mexico was down one percent compared to December 2008.

• South America was up one percent for the year and the month.

• Central America was down two percent for the year but was flat for the month.

• The Middle East was up 41 percent for the year and up 27 percent in December.

• Oceania increased three percent for the year and increased 27 percent for the month.

• Africa increased 25 percent for the year and jumped 18 percent for the month.