Washington — A new forecast suggests continued strong growth in travel and tourism to the United States through 2018, following a record-breaking year in 2012.
International travel and tourism spending reached a record $168.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2011, the U.S. Commerce Department said in a June 10 press release. The increase was the result of a surge in international visitors to the United States: In 2012, a record 67.0 million came to the United States, an increase of 4.3 million from 2011.
Highlights of the 2012 arrivals data show that Canadian visitors set a record with 22.7 million visitors, up 6 percent. Mexico was second with a record 14.5 million arrivals, up 8 percent. The United Kingdom (-2 percent), Japan (+14 percent), and Germany (+3 percent) rounded out the top five.
Countries among the top 20 with the largest increase in 2012 were China (+35 percent), Colombia (+21 percent), Venezuela and Argentina (both up 20 percent), and Brazil (+19 percent). All five countries set records for visits to the United States in 2012.
“These results show that the president’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy is working as the administration continues to focus its efforts to make America more welcoming to visitors from all around the world,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez.
The National Travel and Tourism Strategy establishes a goal of attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021.
According to the Commerce Department forecast, the United States can expect an average of 4 percent annual growth in tourism during the next six years, and in 2013, 69.6 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the United States.
All but one of the top 40 visitor-origin countries are forecast to grow from 2012 through 2018 (Spain is the exception). Countries with the largest total growth percentages are China (+229 percent), Saudi Arabia (+191 percent), Russia (+79 percent), Brazil (+66 percent), Argentina (+65 percent), Colombia (+54 percent), India (+43 percent), South Korea (+43 percent) and Australia (+39 percent).