Department of Commerce forecasts strong growth for international travel to US

WASHINGTON, DC - The US 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

Department of Commerce forecasts strong growth for international travel to US

WASHINGTON, DC – The US 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 2013 Fall Travel Forecast.

Visitor volume in 2013 is expected to increase 3.4 percent and reach 69.0 million visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States. This growth would build on the 6.4 percent increase in arrivals in 2012, which resulted in a record 66.7 million visitors.

According to the current forecast, the United States would see 3.4 percent to 4.3 percent annual growth rates in visitor volume over the 2013-2018 timeframe. By 2018 this growth would produce 83.9 million visitors, a 26 percent increase, and more than 17 million additional visitors compared to 2012. The latest forecast reduces the compound annual growth rate over the forecast period from 4.0% to 3.9%. This downgrade reflects 2013 performances from several key markets that are below spring 2013 forecast expectations.

All world regions except one are forecast to grow over the period, ranging from a low for Central America (+8%) to a high for South America (+65%), the Middle East (+60%), Asia (+59%), and Eastern Europe (+56%). Among the top 20 origin markets, those with the largest expected total growth percentages are China (+219%), Argentina (+78%), Brazil (+70%), Colombia (+66%), Venezuela (+56%), and India (+51%). All countries are projected to produce visitor volume increases, but growth will be small from Jamaica, Bahamas, Netherlands, and most Western Europe countries.

The North America world region will account for a third (37%) of the total visitor growth of 17.2 million visitors by 2018. Asia (29% of total growth), South America (17%), and Western Europe (8%) account for the bulk of the remaining total growth in visitor volume expected in 2018 compared to 2012 actual volume.

Four countries are expected to account for 64 percent of the projected growth from 2012 through 2018. These volume growth leaders are Canada (29% of expected total growth), China (19%), Mexico (9%), 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.

The U.S. travel forecast was prepared by research staff in the Department of Commerce/National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) 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 May and October each year.


Forecast Highlights by Region

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North America: The top two markets generating visitors to the United States – Canada and Mexico – are both forecast to increase in 2014 by 3 percent and to grow by 4.9 million and 1.5 million, or 22 and 10 percent, respectively, from 2012 to 2018. Growth from Canada in 2014 would build on an expected record 2013 performance, while growth from Mexico would more than offset an expected small decline in 2013 and produce a new volume record.

Europe: Visitor volume from Europe is expected to increase 2.4% in 2014, followed by similar and slowly increasing growth over the following four years. The low-growth scenario for Europe is due to dominant and low-growth Western Europe. Annual growth from smaller Eastern Europe is expected to exceed 7% for each year in the forecast period. By 2018 arrivals from Europe are projected to be 14.3 million, or 14 percent higher than the 2012 actual volume. The largest growth from Europe will come from the U.K. (+513,000), France (+198,000), and Germany (+175,000). These growth forecasts reflect low-growth rates based on large traveler volume bases.

Asia-Pacific: Asia is projected to generate a visitor increase of 9 percent in 2014. The region is projected to have similarly large increases over the next few years for a total 59 percent increase from 2012 to 2018. Japan, the largest Asian market and second-largest overseas market, is forecast to increase by 2 percent in 2014 and at a similar level through 2018 to produce total growth of 345,000 additional travelers by the end of 2018. However, 2018 volume will remain well below the 1997 record level of 5.4 million. High growth rates and large growth volumes are expected for China (24%), India (8%), and South Korea (6%) in 2014. Similarly, these three countries are expected to have among the largest total visitor volume growth of any country from 2012 through 2018. China is expected to increase a total of 3.2 million visitors, or 219 percent through 2018, and produce the second-largest number of additional visitors behind Canada. South Korea should produce an additional 540,000 visitors (+43%), while India could add 372,000 new visitors (+51%). Oceania is expected to post 4% growth in 2014, and add 398,000 visitors (+30 percent) through 2018. Australia dominates the Oceania region and is projected to increase 367,000 visitors, or 33 percent between 2012 and 2018.

South America: South America is projected to increase by 7% in 2014 and should remain a top producer of additional travelers for the next several years. By 2018 South America will generate nearly 2.9 million more visitors, a 65% increase compared to 2012. Brazil, the largest source market in the region, is expected to build on its 2012 record-breaking performance and increase 17% in 2013 and 7% in 2014 to produce 2.1 million visitors. By 2018 the United States could host 3.0 million Brazilian visitors, a 70% increase over 2012. Venezuela, Argentina, and Colombia, in 2012 ranked 13, 14, and 16, respectively, are forecast to have high but declining growth rates through 2018. Argentina should produce the greatest growth of 479,000 visitors (+78%), followed closely by Colombia’s additional 399,000 visitors (+66%) and Venezuela’s potential growth of 376,000 visitors (+56%).

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