United States a Top Destination for Foreign Travelers in 2006

By Carolee Walker
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - More than 54 million international travelers plan to visit the United States in 2007, spending $113 billion, estimates the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The United States tourism industry seems to have recovered substantially since September 11, 2001, when international travel to the United States dropped significantly in the wake of terrorists attacks on New York and Washington, International Trade Administration spokesman Matt Braud told the Washington File.

“The United States is a top tourist destination for foreign travelers,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce expects record numbers of international visitors to the United States when totals are in for 2006, and predicts that total will exceed the previous record year of 2000, when more than 51.2 million international travelers visited the United States.

“A strong global economy will certainly boost visitation to the United States in the future,” said Ana M. Guevara, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for services, in an International Trade Administration press release October 18.

By 2010, it is estimated that international tourists will reach 63 million people, an increase of 28 percent over five years, and spending by international visitors will reach $135 billion. This includes money spent by tourists on food in restaurants, car rentals, hotel stays, entertainment and souvenirs, for example. 

“Foreign travelers are always welcome here,” Braud said. At an April tourism summit in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States was working to improve the visa process for international travelers. (See related article.)

“We do our best to ensure America remains a welcoming destination for international travelers while administering U.S. law and safeguarding our borders,” said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services Tony Edson in a State Department webchat in September. (See related article.)

Canada and Mexico send the most visitors to the United States, and the Commerce Department expects growth of 28 percent and 30 percent from those countries, respectively, from 2005 to 2010. “Mexico has set a record for tourists and spending in each of the past four years,” Braud said.

The Commerce Department estimates that visitors from Japan will reach 5 million by 2010, an increase of 29 percent from 2005. The number of travelers from Brazil, Chile and Venezuela visiting the United States also is expected to increase significantly by 2010 from 2005 levels.

For more information on travel to the United States, see “America Extends a Warm Welcome to Visitors Travel Since 9/11” and the electronic journal See You in the U.S.A.

The full text of the International Trade Administration press release is available on the department’s Web site.