U.S. Commerce Department Predicts Increase in U.S.-bound Travel for 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Spring 2012 Travel and Tourism Forecast predicted that the U.S. can expect a 4-5% increase in tourism over the next five years.

Following two consecutive visitor volume records set in 2010 and 2011, the report also announced that 65.4 million travelers will visit the U.S. in 2012 alone.

The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration also launched a new online tool to provide the travel and tourism industry, as well as foreign visitors, with information and statistics from the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and State. The site includes information like travel tips and a set of 15 regularly-updated graphs on visa wait times, international arrivals processing times and airline capacity in key markets.

Tourists from all world regions are forecast to grow over the five year period, ranging from a low for the Caribbean (+9%) to a high for Asia (+49%), South America (+47%) and Africa (+47%). All but three of the top 40 visitor-origin countries are forecast to grow from 2011 through 2016. Countries with the largest total growth percentages are China (+198%), Brazil (+70%), Argentina (+46%), Australia (+45%), Korea (+35%) and Venezuela (+35%).

The North America world region is forecast to account for the largest proportion of the total visitor growth of 14 million visitors (42%). Asia (25%), Western Europe (11%) and South America (13%) are expected to account for the bulk of the remaining 58% of total growth in visitor volume forecast in 2016 compared to 2011 actual volume.

The Commerce Department also recently released data showing that 62 million international visitors traveled to the U.S. in 2011, generating a record $153 billion in receipts and a $43 billion trade surplus. International and domestic tourism spending increased 8.1%, supporting an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million Americans employed in travel and tourism industries or in industries that support them. Further, 1.2 million jobs are supported directly by international traveler spending within the United States and on U.S. carriers.

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