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Foreign Visitors to U.S. Expected to Increase over Next 5 Years

03 December 2012
Crowd of people carrying signs and walking down street (AP Images)

More than 1,000 members of the New Orleans hospitality community marched through the city’s French Quarter in May to reinforce the importance of tourism and welcoming visitors to the city.

Washington — The United States can expect 3.6 percent to 4.3 percent average annual growth in foreign visitors over the next five years, the U.S. Department of Commerce says.

This year, more than 66 million international travelers are projected to visit the United States, the department said, an increase of 6 percent over 2011 visitor volume.

“Last year, our nation hosted a record-breaking number of international visitors, and the future looks even brighter,” Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said.

In 2011, some 62.7 million international visitors traveled to the United States, generating $153 billion in receipts and a $43 billion trade surplus, the Commerce Department’ International Trade Administration (ITA) said November 30.

Visitors to the United States from all world regions are forecast to grow over the period from 2011 through 2017, ranging from a modest increase for the Caribbean (+3 percent) to a high for Asia (+64 percent), South America (+60 percent), and Oceania (+41 percent). Countries with the largest predicted growth percentages are China (+259 percent), Brazil (+83 percent), Argentina (+67 percent), South Korea (+51 percent), India (+47 percent), Australia (+46 percent), and Venezuela (+45 percent).

The North America region will account for the largest proportion of the total visitor growth of nearly 18 million visitors (42 percent). Asia (26 percent), South America (13 percent), and Western Europe (12 percent) will account for the bulk of the remaining 58 percent of total growth in visitor volume forecast in 2017, ITA said. Countries producing the largest increases in visitors are Canada (29 percent of total growth), China (16 percent), Mexico (13 percent), Brazil (7 percent), United Kingdom (4 percent), and Japan (4 percent).

The new forecast supports the goals of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which the U.S. departments of Commerce and Interior presented to the president in May as a blueprint to increase international travel to the United States.

More information on the travel and tourism projections is available on the ITA’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries Web page.

For more information on vacation destinations in the United States, see "50 States in 50 Days."