Visit Florida

Published on Tuesday, March 24, 2009

International visitation to the US sets new records

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that a record 58 million international visitors traveled to the United States during 2008, an increase of nearly four percent over 2007. Thirteen of the top 25 arrivals markets broke records set in previous years. In December 2008, the total monthly visitation reached 3.9 million, down seven percent when compared to December 2007. Fourth quarter total arrivals declined six percent.

Arrivals to the United States in 2008 reflected a shift between the first nine months of the year and the fourth quarter. For the first nine months, 17 of the top 20 arrivals markets posted increases in arrivals. Canada was growing at a double-digit rate, but Mexican arrivals were in decline. Overseas arrivals (all countries except Canada and Mexico) were up nine percent through the first nine months of 2008, and only two world regions posted declines through September 2008.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, however, a shift took place in arrivals to the United States. During the last quarter of the year, only 12 of the top 20 countries posted growth. Both Canada and Mexico posted declines in arrivals and all overseas markets declined by almost three percent. Of the nine world regions tracked each month, five posted declines in arrivals.

The monthly arrivals data, the Barometer program, and forecast data for top markets should provide the industry with sufficient information to track and analyze shifts in U.S. arrivals.

In 2008, Canadian visitation totaled 18.9 million, up seven percent for the year and driven by land arrivals, which were up six percent. At the same time, air arrivals increased by eight percent.

Arrivals from Mexico totaled 13.8 million, decreasing four percent in 2008 compared to 2007. Air arrivals were down nine percent for the year.

Overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico) totaled 25.3 million, up six percent for the year, but were still two percent below the record set in 2000.

Although arrivals were down two percent from 2000, the last record year, they have increased 33 percent from 2003, the post-9/11 low in arrivals to the United States.

U.S. Visitation from Western Europe, 12.2 million visitors, was up 12 percent for the year and accounted for 48 percent of overseas arrivals. In December 2008, travelers from Western Europe were down three percent. New records were set in France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, and Norway.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom were down 14 percent in December but up more than one percent for the year. Visitors from the United Kingdom accounted for 37 percent of all Western European arrivals.

In 2008, German arrivals increased 17 percent, French arrivals grew 25 percent, and Italian arrivals were up 23 percent, continuing growth trends from 2007. Also in 2008, visitation from the Netherlands grew 20 percent. At the same time, visitors from Spain and Ireland grew 27 percent and eight percent, respectively. Arrivals from Sweden and Switzerland were up 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively, for the year. Only Ireland and the United Kingdom posted declines among the top 15 Western European arrivals markets for the fourth quarter of 2008. All the other countries registered increases in arrivals, although at a slower rate.

Visitation from Asia decreased three percent in 2008, but still accounted for 24 percent of overseas arrivals. Japanese arrivals decreased eight percent in 2008, accounting for 53 percent of all Asian visitors for the year. In 2008, arrivals from South Korea decreased six percent. Taiwanese visitation decreased five percent in 2008.

The emerging markets, India and the People’s Republic of China, grew six percent and 24 percent respectively. India and China both set new arrivals records in 2008.

Arrivals from South America, accounting for 10 percent of overseas arrivals, were up 12 percent in 2008. Year-to-date, double-digit growth in visitation was recorded from Brazil (+20%), Venezuela (+11%), and Argentina (+19%). From South America, top arrivals were from Brazil accounted for 30 percent of all arrivals from the region. Colombia set a new record for the year, posting an eight percent growth rate for the year.

Visitation from the Caribbean area decreased nine percent in 2008. In 2008, there was a 14 percent decrease in arrivals from the Dominican Republic, the top arrivals market from this region.

Travel from Oceania increased two percent in 2008. Australian arrivals registered a three percent expansion for the year, which meant it set a new arrivals record in 2008. In 2008, Australia accounted for 81 percent of all arrivals from Oceania.

Central American arrivals in 2008 were down one percent when compared to 2007.

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  • numbers to plummet for 2009 !!!

    As seen by the trend of 4th quarter 2008, numbers will keep plummeting, even with stupidly low fare levels around t present from eg.Australia.

    By Craig Mathews, Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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