Helping U.S. businesses by
Browse by organization

For Immediate Release: November 6, 2008
Contact: Seamus Kraft  (202) 482-3809

International Visitor Spending Hits All Time High
Travelers Pump $12.7 Billion into U.S. Economy

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that 5.6 million international visitors traveled to the United States in August 2008, an increase of 6 percent over August 2007.  For the first eight months of 2008, visitation was up 9 percent compared to the same period in 2007.  International visitors spent a record $12.7 billion in August 2008, a 20 percent increase over August 2007.  Total travel exports were up 24 percent year-to-date (YTD) compared to 2007. 

“The strong August data shows that America continued to be a top destination for travelers from all parts of the world,” said Commerce Manufacturing and Services Assistant Secretary William G. Sutton.  “Record high visitor spending highlighted the strength of the U.S. tourism industry, a welcome and positive contribution to a lagging U.S. economy.”

Spending by international travelers while in the United States, including travel receipts and passenger fares, is defined as a U.S. export.

Highlights: International Arrivals to United States for August and YTD 2008

  • Overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico) totaled 2.6 million for the month, up 8 percent over August 2007, and hit 17.1 million YTD, up 10 percent over 2007.
  • Visitation from Western Europe increased 19 percent in August and 18 percent YTD.  
  • Visitation from top Western European markets all increased by double digits for the month of August 2008 as well as the first eight months of the year.  In August, double-digit growth rates were recorded from: Germany, up 22 percent; France, up 40 percent; Italy, up 37 percent; Spain, up 45 percent; the Netherlands, up 16 percent; Switzerland, up 22 percent; Denmark, up 22 percent; and Sweden, up 15 percent.  Eastern European arrivals increased 22 percent for the month.
  • United Kingdom visitation was up 4 percent in August and 7 percent YTD.  
  • Visitation from Canada was up 13 percent for the month and 14 percent YTD.
  • Arrivals from South America were up 17 percent in August and 14 percent YTD.
  • Arrivals from China increased 25 percent for the month, and were up 29 percent YTD.
  • African visitation was up 22 percent in August and 17 percent YTD.


Manufacturing and Services’ Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) collects, analyzes and disseminates international travel and tourism statistics for the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System.  To view OTTI visitation data tables, please visit:


# # #