Courier February Courier - Page 14

BUSINESS Back on track After stalling in 2017, international travel to the U.S. is projected to produce 90 million annual visitors by 2022 BY JULIE P. HEIZER, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, NATIONAL TRAVEL AND TOURISM OFFICE THE U.S. DEPARTMENT of Commerce projects international travel to the United States will continue experienc- ing growth through 2022, based on the National Travel and Tourism Office’s 2017 Fall Travel Forecast. Visitor volume in 2017 was expected to end the year unchanged compared to the 2016 level of 75.9 million visitors who stayed one or more nights in the U.S. Growth is expected to resume in 2018 and produce a 3.9 percent increase and a new volume record of 78.9 million visitors. According to the forecast for 2017–22, the United States would see a 2.9 percent compounded average annual increase in visitor volume. By 2022 this growth would produce 90.0 million total visitors, a 19 percent increase, and more than 14 million additional visitors compared to 2016. The com- pounded growth rate is lower than the 3.3 percent projected in the 2016 Fall Travel Forecast due to the unexpected flat performance last year. Using 2017 as the base year produces a 3.5 percent compounded growth rate through 2022, and thus the long-term growth poten- tial for international visitation remains unchanged. All but one of the top 21 visitor ori- gin countries are forecast to grow from 2016 through 2022. Top origin countries with the largest projected total growth percentages are China (57%), South Korea (46%), Ireland (28%), Canada (22%) and Italy (22%). Mexico and India do not make this top-growth list because of steep declines expected in 2017. Venezuela is the only country expected to have a decline in visitors (-33%) by the end of the forecast period. Four countries are expected to account for 54 percent of the projected volume growth from 2017 through 2022: Canada (with 30 percent of the expected total growth of 14.1 million additional visitors), China (12%), South Korea (6%) and Mexico (6%). If the forecast results are realized through 2022, the current top 10 coun- tries will experience minor shifts in rankings; the top 10 origin countries in 2016 will remain so in 2022. The U.S. Travel Forecast was prepared by research staff in the Department of Commerce/National Travel and Tourism Office using economic, demographic and social factors; historical visita- tion trends; input from the DOC Global Markets staff members living abroad; and numerous other sources. The Travel Forecast is updated in the spring and fall each year. 2017–22 forecast highlights, by region North America The forecast for this region, comprised of Canada and Mexico, is downgraded slightly from the fall 2016 forecast because of the 2017 decline in visitation from Mexico. North America is still pro- jected to have the largest regional growth over the forecast period, though. The region should generate More visitors These four countries are projected to account for more than half of the total growth in U.S.-inbound visitation through 2022: Canada 30% China 12% South Korea 6% Mexico 6% 12 February 2018