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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Victoria Park: (202) 482-0310/(202)-297-1381
May 27, 2002 Monica Hill: (202) 482-3809

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT FORECAST:
INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS RETURNING TO THE U.S.

Travel and Tourism Industry Continues to Show Steady Improvement Well into 2005

The U.S. Department of Commerce today released its semi-annual Forecast of International Travel to the U.S. that reveals international travelers should return to 2000 levels by 2004.

“Our message is resonating,@ said Commerce Secretary Don Evans. “We’ve been aggressive in communicating to travelers from around the world that the United States is safe and open for business. We will continue to promote this industry because not only is it good for our economy and for all those who work in this industry, but also because travel advances cultural understanding among different countries and helps in spreading the ideals of democracy.”

Following the September 11 attacks, tourism to the U.S. dropped dramatically, contributing to an 11 percent decline in international travelers in 2001. Although recovery is slow, total arrivals to the U.S. are forecasted to increase steadily in 2002 and show even stronger growth the following two years at eight percent for each year. By 2005, 57.6 million travelers are expected to visit the U.S.

HIGHLIGHTS OF FORECAST OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL TO THE U.S.

  • Key markets responsible for an improved long-term forecast are NAFTA trading partners, Canada and Mexico, which aare expected to grow by 35 and 26 percent, respectively, over the forecast period.

  • Europe: Visitors from Europe are expected to return noticeably by 2003, with the UK maintaining its position as the top overseas market. Visitor levels from Europe are projected to grow by a solid 10 percent, holding fairly steady the following two years, representing an overall growth of 30 percent. This will place Europe well-ahead of its peak 2000 level with 12.2 million new visitors to the U.S. Germany: Germany is expected to remain weak through 2002, but then strengthen to a 26 percent recovery by 2005 over the 2001 level. The Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland and Belgium are also expected to support stronger than average growth for the forecast period.

    Asia: Asia=s recovery will likely be slow, with the exception of South Korea, Taiwan, and the People=s Republic of China, which are bouncing back more rapidly. The growth of travelers from Japan is forecasted to be weak this year, but with economic improvements anticipated by 2003, this country may see an overall 23 percent increase by 2005 over the 2001 level. The Memorandum of Understanding signed by Secretary Evans in April to support a Tourism Export Expansion Initiative between the United States and Japan should help secure this growth.

             South America and Oceania: Both South America, primarily Brazil, and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) are forecasted to expand by 20 percent and 31 percent, respectively, thus contributing positively to the international traveler increases to the U.S. by 2005.

Travel and tourism represents the top services export for the United States and has produced a travel trade surplus since 1989 (nearly $8 billion in 2001). For more information visit http://tinet.ita.doc.gov.

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