The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) projects international travel to the United States will continue to experience strong growth through 2019, based on the National Travel and Tourism Office's 2014 Fall Travel Forecast.
Visitor volume in 2014 is expected to increase 5.9 percent and reach 73.9 million visitors who stay one or more nights in the United States. This growth would build on the 4.7 percent (revised) increase in arrivals in 2013, which resulted in a record 69.8 million visitors.
According to the current forecast, the United States would see 3.3 percent to 5.9 percent annual growth rates in visitor volume over the 2014 2019 timeframe. By 2019 this growth would produce 88.3 million visitors, a 27 percent increase, and more than 18 million additional visitors compared to 2013. The latest forecast produces a compound annual growth rate over the forecast period of 4.0%. This rate is slightly higher than the rate in the Spring 2014 Travel Forecast due to a one time 2014 "artificial" volume increase produced by traveler record processing automation that improved the ability to define one night only overseas travelers. Previously, most of these travelers were not included in overseas traveler counts.
All but two top 20 visitor origin countries are forecast to grow between 2013 and 2019. Countries with the largest total growth percentages are China (172%), Colombia (72%), India (47%), Brazil (43%), and Mexico (38%).
Five countries are expected to account for 72 percent of the projected growth from 2013 through 2019. These volume growth leaders are Mexico (30% of expected total growth), Canada (17%), China (17%), Brazil (5%), and the United Kingdom (U.K.) (3%). Although China and Brazil continue to get the bulk of media attention because of their consistent and very high growth rates, the traditional top origin countries will dictate actual volume growth and the ultimate accuracy of the forecast. For example, despite a small 3.0% growth rate, Canada produced a greater number of additional travelers in 2013 compared to the previous year than China and Brazil combined.
If the fall 2014 Travel Forecast is realized through 2019, the current top ten countries will retain that status, but China will move from #7 in 2013 to #3 in 2019, while U.K. Japan, Brazil, and German will all slip down one place in the ranking. Outside the top ten, Columbia would move from #14 in 2013 to #11 in 2019.
The U.S. travel forecast was prepared by research staff in the Department of Commerce/National Travel and Tourism Office using economic/demographic/social factors, DOC historical visitation trends, input from the DOC Foreign Commercial Service staff abroad, and numerous other miscellaneous sources. The NTTO travel forecast is updated in the spring and fall each year.
Forecast Highlights by Region
North America: The top two markets generating visitors to the United States - Canada and Mexico - are both forecast to increase over the forecast period. Top market Canada is expected to grow 2.2 percent per year on average to reach 26.6 million visitors of one or more nights, an increase of 3.2 million over the 2013 volume. Mexico is expected to grow 5.6 percent per year on average to reach 19.9 million visitors in 2019, an increase of 5.5 million visitors over the 2013 level.
Europe: By 2019 arrivals from Europe are projected to be 15.4 million, or 20 percent higher than the 2013 volume. The largest growth from Europe will come from the U.K. (+569,000), France (+343,000), and Germany (+242,000). These growth forecasts reflect low growth rates based on large traveler volume bases. For perspective, Western Europe countries are expected to produce 2.1 million additional travelers in 2019 versus 2013 compared to just 422,000 additional travelers from Eastern Europe countries.
Asia Pacific: This world region is expected to produce a 44 percent increase in visitors by 2019. Japan, the largest Asian market and second largest overseas market, is forecast to decrease over the first half of the forecast period then rebound slowly to produce a total decline of 40,000 travelers by the end of 2019. Thus, 2019 volume will remain well below the 1997 record level of 5.4 million. High growth rates and large growth volumes are expected for China (24%), India (9%), and South Korea (6%) in 2014. Similarly, these countries are expected to have among the largest total visitor volume growth of any country from 2013 through 2019. China is expected to increase a total of 3.1 million visitors, or 172 percent through 2019, and produce the third largest number of additional visitors behind Mexico and Canada. South Korea should produce an additional 428,000 visitors (+31%), while India could add 406,000 additional visitors (+47%). Australia dominates the Oceania region and is projected to increase 305,000 visitors, or 25 percent between 2013 and 2019.
South America: South America will remain a top producer of additional travelers for the next several years. By 2019 South America will generate nearly 1.6 million more visitors, a 31% increase compared to 2013. Brazil, the largest source market in the region, is expected to build on its 2013 record breaking performance and increase 7% in 2014. By 2019 the United States could host 3.0 million Brazilian visitors, a 43% increase over 2013. Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina, which ranked 13, 14, and 15, respectively, in 2013, are forecast to have very different performance paths through 2019. Colombia should produce the greatest growth of 537,000 visitors (+72%), followed by Argentina's additional 149,000 visitors (+22%). Political and economic turmoil and instability has changed the outlook for Venezuela from strong potential growth to projected steep declines ( 32%).