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October 11, 2002
  Contact: Victoria Park
(202) 482-0310

2002 Travel Holds Steady, Improvements Seen Well into 2006

The Commerce Department today released its semi-annual Forecast of International Travel to the U.S. that shows the number of international travelers to the U.S. held steady for 2002, and will return to pre-Sept 11th levels by 2004. In fact, a record 60 million international visitors are expected to travel to the U.S. by 2006, a 32 percent increase over 2001.

International visitation to the U.S. dropped 11 percent in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. While 2002 is projected to finish out even with 2001, an 8 percent growth is projected in both 2003 and 2004. Moreover, growth is expected to continue into the long-term, with a 7 percent growth forecast for 2005 and 2006.


  • Key markets responsible for an improved long-term forecast are our NAFTA trading partners, Canada and Mexico, which are expected to grow by 32 and 40 percent respectively, through 2006.

  • Europe: Visitors from Europe are expected to return noticeably by 2004, with the UK maintaining its position as the top overseas market. While visitor levels from Europe are projected to remain flat in 2002, an overall growth of 33 percent is expected by 2006. This will place Europe ahead of its peak 2000 level with 13 million total visitors to the U.S. The United Kingdom will see steady growth, especially in 2003. This supports the peak forecast of nearly 5.6 million British travelers by 2006. Germany is expected to remain weak through 2002; this market is projected to strengthen 31 percent by 2006 over the 2001 level, just short of its 2000 level. France will remain the fourth largest overseas market, generating over 1.2 million visitors by 2006, a 33 percent increase over 2001.

  • Asia: Asia's recovery will be slow through 2006, with only 26 percent growth through the forecast period. The impact of slower growth from Japanese travelers impacts this regional forecast. Even so, the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Secretary Evans in April 2002 to support a Tourism Export Expansion Initiative between the United States and Japan should help secure the 21 percent growth in Japanese visitors by 2006. The Republic of Korea is the star performer in this region, showing high short-term and long-term increases. Korea is expected to top its previous peak with 915,000 visitors by 2006, up 46 percent from 2001.

  • South America: South America's relatively slight 13 percent growth over the forecast period is due primarily to volatile economic and political conditions in its top markets, with the notable exception of Brazil. By 2003, Brazil is forecasted to become the sixth largest overseas source market for the U.S. The longer term forecast for Brazil shows it will grow by 27 percent between 2001 and 2006. Meanwhile, Argentina is forecasted to decline by 36 percent, struggling to recover an estimated 43 percent loss in 2002. This will drop Argentina from the tenth largest overseas market to the twenty-first. Venezuela is expected to see a 17 percent increase over the forecast period, compared to 2001.

For more information on the international travel market to the U.S., visit: http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/view/f-2000-99-001/index.html

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