Travel to the United States finally grew in October! After six months of declines, thanks to an Easter bump in April, foreign visitation finally ticked higher, an increase of 1 percent year-over-year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. If you take the holiday factor out of the equation, the last year-over-year increase came in August 2008. It’s difficult to tell whether the October gain signals a turn, since the 2009 result was measured against the first month following the financial mayhem of September 2008.
Four million people visited the United States from abroad last October and spent $10.3 billion in the process. Unlike the visitation statistic, spending was down … considerably. The cash shelled out by international visitors was off 13 percent year over year. But, the declines are shrinking. For the first 10 months of 2009, visitor spending amounted to $100.9 billion, a decline of 16 percent from the same period in 2008.
Thirteen of the top 20 countries in terms of visitation to the United States posted increases in October — six of them in double digits. Brazil, Australia, China, South Korea, Venezuela and Colombia delivered the greatest gains.The news was mixed from our neighbors. Visits from Canada fell 1 percent from October 2008 to October 2009, which is still an improvement over the year-to-date decline of 7 percent. Mexico, meanwhile, showed a 2 percent increase in October and a 5 percent decline for the year. Slightly more than half of the 4 million visitors to the United States came from overseas — i.e., not Canada or Mexico — an increase of 1 percent year-over-year. Through October, 19.8 million people crossed water to hit the United States, an 8 percent drop from the first 10 months of 2008.
Visits from Western Europe were down 5 percent for October and 11 percent for the year, while Asia posted a 2 percent gain and a year-to-date decline of 11 percent. The greatest gains were in the South American market: visitation to the United States was up 22 percent for October and 6 percent for the first 10 months of 2009.
[Photo by hjl via Flickr]