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For Immediate Release
Contact: Monica Hill

Tuesday, April 24, 2001

International Visitors Boost U.S. Economy

An unprecedented 50.9 million international travelers visited the United States in 2000, exceeding last year's record by 5 percent, says a report issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Tourism Industries Office.

"The new century marked a healthy increase in international travel and tourism to the United States," said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Timothy J. Hauser. "As one of our leading exports, international travel supports U.S. jobs and strengthens the economy."

According to the World Tourism Organization, the United States enjoyed one of the highest growth rates among the most-visited countries in 2000, joining China, Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany.

The strong turnout of international visitors coincided with strengthening economies in Asia and South America and steady growth throughout Europe, Canada and Mexico. More than half of last year's arrivals were overseas travelers (from countries other than Mexico and Canada). European visitors made up nearly half of this group, with Asians coming in next at almost 30 percent, and Latin Americans not far behind at 20 percent.

Visitors from the United Kingdom exceeded forecasts for 2000 with 4.7 million arrivals, an 11 percent increase over 1999. The boom in British arrivals offset declines among some Western European visitors from countries such as Germany and Italy, who were affected by depreciating currencies against the U.S. dollar, particularly during the second half of the year.

Japanese travelers comprised more than two-thirds of all Asian arrivals for 2000. They maintained their lead position among overseas visitors, nearly recouping to their 1997 level, with over 5 million arrivals. South Korea moved up four positions to become the sixth-top overseas source of U.S. tourists, with double-digit growth (33 percent) in 2000 to 662,000 visitors.

Nearly 3 million South American tourists made the United States their destination in 2000, an increase of almost 8 percent that grazed the record high of 1998. The increased volume of visitors occurred as Brazil's economy saw an upward turn. Venezuelan travelers continued their growth trend since 1996, with 4 percent more arrivals in 2000 than the previous year.

For the first time since 1993, Australia made the top ten list for visitors to the United States, surpassing its 1997 record of half of a million visitors. Despite hosting the Olympics in 2000, Australian tourism to the United States grew by nearly 12 percent.

The balance of the visitors to the United States came from our neighbors to the north and south. Arrivals from North America reached nearly 25 million. Canadian tourism in the United States increased 3 percent, the second consecutive rise after a two-year slump in the mid 1990's, with more than 14.5 million visitors. Mexican arrivals have been increasing since 1997, and at 10.3 million, the year 2000 was no exception.

For more information on travel and tourism, please visit http://tinet.ita.doc.gov.




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