Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

Published on Thursday, July 10, 2008

Visitor numbers to US remain stagnant

Post 9-11 security problems, lower airfares elsewhere and poor marketing by the US all add up to America’s losing out in the world travel market, say recent reports.

The boom in international travel is not extended here despite the weak US dollar.

"Right now, there's some other worldwide destinations that are taking some of the marketplace," John Power, vice president of marketing and sales for Heli USA Airways in Las Vegas, told the AP. The weak US economy and competition from other countries are hurting business, he said.

Travel industry experts say the US is missing an opportunity to make up for the shortfall in domestic tourism caused by high fuel prices.

According to the U.N. World Tourism Organization, the United States had 51 million international visitors in 2000, more than 7% of the 682 million international arrivals worldwide. But as those travelers jumped to 846 million in 2006, the US saw roughly the same number of visitors as it used to -- dropping its share to 6 percent.

Major destinations such as Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Miami, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Boston all saw 20% to 34% fewer travelers in 2006 compared with 2000.

Of the top 10 cities, only New York saw more visitors in 2006 than in 2000, with a 9%increase to 6.2 million arrivals, according to the US Commerce Department.

Nearly 26 million people traveled to the United States from overseas in 2000. But that dropped drastically after 9-11, according to data from the Commerce Department's Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. The number bottomed out in 2003 with 18 million overseas visitors.

Part of the problem is the perception of nasty US attitudes toward foreigners starting at customs, said Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association.

"The perception is in spades that we're less welcoming" than other countries, he said.

The US should decode its complex entry rules and boost staffing at customs checkpoints, Mr Dow and others said.

A frequent US visitor from Scotland, George Somerville was quoted as saying customs here a "daunting prospect" that requires fingerprints and retinal scans.

Top destination cities are spending millions to promote themselves abroad and often compete with one another for foreign visitors, meaning less-obvious destinations with smaller marketing budgets have trouble being heard.

Report by David Wilkening

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  • current numbers tell a different story.

    I'd double check your numbers....US dept. of Commerce reports substantial growth in overseas travellers to the US this year. also, according to Mass port, (Boston Airprt) 2007 marks the 6th consecutive increase in overseas travel to Boston based on number of seats filled...

    By jhorsman, Friday, July 11, 2008

  • What a difference a year makes! No more stagnation!

    Given it is 2008, why are 2006 figures being used when international 2007 arrivals to the USA were issued in March 2008, and revised arrivals and spending was issued in June 2008? Furthermore, January -March 2008 data is available for arrivals to the USA and the story is very diffferent in 2007 and 2008 todate. Total international arrivals increased by 10% in 2007. Overseas arrivals excluding Canada and Mexico in 2007 also increased by 10% over 2006, although we have still not set a new record for overseas arrivals. The USA has set recrods for arrivals in 2007 for 9 of the top 20 markets. In 2008, to date, the USA has posted a 15% increase in total arrivals and overseas is 10% again. On July 4th, the World Tourism Organization released its 2007 world spending and arrivals totals. The USA share of world arrivals increased with its 10% growth rate, exceeding the world growth rate of 7%. Spending by international travelers within the USA has seen double-digit increases in 3 of the last 4 years to a record $96.7 billion; although the USA is still losing market share as are many of the other top world travel receipts generating markets. There is a shift occuring in the international travel flows today. The industry needs to adjust to these shifts just like all other countries. But, to do this, current figures need to be used, not 2 year old data.

    By Ron Erdmann, Friday, July 11, 2008

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