Travel fell again in 2009, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data, as a weak economy put pressure on both personal and corporate travel budgets.
Only 3.6 million people arrived from other countries, marking a decline of 11 percent from June 2008 to June 2009. For the six months of the year, international arrivals were off 10 percent year-over-year. The spending situation was even worse. Guests to the United States fell 22 percent from June 2008 to June 2009, the eight month in a row in which this measure dropped. For the first half of the year, foreign visitors spent $60 billion – a 15 percent decline.
Travel from Canada took a hit in June, down 13 percent in June. Land arrivals fell 15 percent, with 11 percent fewer coming by air. For the first half of the year, Canadian visits were off 9 percent. The situation with Mexico was more favorable. Land arrivals jumped 5 percent, with air travel down 15 percent. Overall, travel from Mexico to the United States showed a modest decline of 1 percent for the month of June. For the year, however, visits from Mexico plunged 13 percent year-over-year.
Excluding Canada and Mexico, foreign visits fell for 16 of the top 20 countries in June – nine at double-digit rates. For the first two quarters of 2009, the results for the top 20 are the same, though only eight countries posted double-digit drops. Travel from Europe fell 11 percent for the first half of the year, with the United Kingdom posting a worse-than-average rate of 17 percent. This country accounts for 36 percent of all Western European arrivals, and Western Europe is responsible for close to half of all overseas visitors to the United States. Visits from Eastern Europe were up 3 percent from June 2008 to June 2009 and 1 percent for the first half of the year.
Asia, however, sustained the greatest drops. From June 2008 to June 2009, visitation from Asia fell 28 percent – driving the first-half results down 17 percent. Visits from Japan plunged 39 percent from June to June and 18 percent for the first half of the year. Japan sent 51 percent of Asian visitors to the United States in the first half of the year. Travel from South Korea and India fell 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively, with China down 4 percent for the first half of the year.