Travel and Tourism United States Economic Policy Balance of Trade

2019 Overseas Visitation Estimates, Country Profiles and Spending Available

TI News July 17, 2020

The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) has completed posting of the 2019 states, cities, and regions visited by overseas travelers, and profiles on the Travel and Tourism Research Page.

NTTO’s presentation includes profiles of overseas visitors containing characteristics from the Survey of International Air Travelers passenger responses. Profiles include a comprehensive view of overseas travelers, followed by segmentations by regions (9) and countries (top 25) of origin. In addition, there are ten sector/activity profiles and special reports on U.S. states and cities visited in 2019.

Key Takeaways Follow:

While the 2019 overseas arrivals data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security I-94 records totaled 40.393 million visitors, marking a 1.3 percent year-over-year increase, total visitation to the 11 U.S. regions declined slightly by -1.2 percent.

Spending (travel and tourism exports, preliminary) estimates totaled $211.4 billion, down slightly from 2018. Revised estimates will be forthcoming. Country and regional spending estimates are included, when available, within the profiles. For example, the Italy profile shows that spending for total travel (all purposes) and passenger fares on U.S. carriers was estimated at $4.3 billion.

Traveler Characteristics observed in 2019 versus 1997 (the first year that data were made available in Excel format):

Business-Convention travel in 2019 was slightly lower than it was in 1997.

Leisure-VFR (visiting friends and relatives) travel segments demonstrated sustained growth over the last two-plus decades, from 18.8M in 1997 to 33.1M in 2019.

Other Traveler Characteristics observed in 2019 versus 1997:

The average number of states visited in 2019 was 1.4 states vs. 1.6 states in 1997. Also, the percentage of travelers visiting only one state was 75.9 percent of visitors in 2019, up from 63.1 percent in 1997.

Length of stay in the United States averaged 16.9 nights, up from 15.4 nights in 1997.

Average travel party size increased to 1.7 persons from 1.6 persons in 1997. A 6.3 percent increase in party size may have influenced other visitation statistics, i.e. lodging, as would changes in length of stay and number of destinations visited.

The share of visitors using a ‘conventional’ tour package (including, at minimum, air and lodging) declined to 13.3 percent from 22.5 percent in 1997. Tour packages were used mostly in Asian, European, and Brazilian markets. A growing number of ‘independent’ travelers utilized internet booking services to virtually assemble air and lodging reservations.

The number of repeat travelers has increased over time, from 75.3% of all travelers in 1997 to 78.7% in 2019.

Transportation usage in the United States: For inter-city travel the usage of bus travel increased while domestic air travel declined.

The use of cruise, ship/river boat, for one or more nights, and ferry and scenic cruises has been holding at four percent since NTTO started to measure those modes in 2012.

The most seismic change during this period was the proportionate increase in the number of females who visited the United States. In 2019, 48% of all overseas visitors were female compared with 34% in 1997. 

  1997 2019
Male 66% 52%
Female 34% 48%

89.3% of all visitors rated their U.S. entry experience as “average/good/excellent.”

97.1percent of visitors indicated their overall trip experience in the United States “met or exceeded expectations” and 97.7 percent indicated they expect to visit the United States again.

For more reports, specific details, and information on these and other travel segments, please visit:

The ‘profile’ format and content of these reports were completely redesigned last year making them much more useful and user-friendly. Instead of a static PDF format providing only year-over-year data, NTTO expanded to an Excel format spanning more than 20 years of data.

Please contact NTTO with questions/comments at 202.482.4753 or


Example of how to use the Excel Profile to calculate the volume of travelers. (From the profile as it appears with hidden columns).

Question: How many visitors stayed in hotels/motels in 2019 compared to 2000?

1-Go to the ‘Overseas’ profile, row 51, which contains Total Arrivals (000)¦ DHS I-94s.

 2-Then go to row 376 which contains the % share of those who stayed in hotels/motels for 1+ nights.

Multiply Total Arrivals for 2000 (25,975,000) x % row 376 (.807) = 20.962 million.

Multiply Total Arrivals for 2019 (40,393,000) x % row 376 (.760) = 30.699 million.

Result: (30.699 - 20.962) / 20.962, the number of overseas visitors who stayed in a hotel increased by 46% y-o-y.

Although the total volume increased, it is notable that % usage share declined from 80.7% to 76.0%. This reflects, to some extent, an increased usage of ‘other’ accommodations (i.e., Airbnb). These profiles also provide average stay length in nights among hotel users, and average party size and thus can be used to estimate the total number of hotel/motel room nights demanded by overseas travelers or for a specific country, or travel segment, or activity.

Question: How can all the years 1997 through 2019 be viewed?

1-SELECT the entire profile excel spreadsheet.

2-Go to HOME, select FORMAT, drop-down select HIDE & UNHIDE, select UNHIDE COLUMNS.