Travel to U.S. up in 2008, down in October

Buoyed by the first part of the year, international travel to the United States was up 7 percent for the first 10 months of 2008. According to the U.S. Department Commerce, 43 million people visited the country. For the month of October, though, travel was down 2 percent, at 4 million.

But, those who came spent a lot more. International visitors dropped $11.9 billion last October, up 7 percent relative to October 2007. For the entire year, our guests pumped $120.3 billion into our economy. The dollar may be slumping, but clearly it takes more than a currency swing to keep people from checking into our hotels.

So, where did this money come from?

Well, Canadians played a greater role, with the number of our northern neighbors heading south increasing by 10 percent. The United Kingdom sent fewer people to the United States this year (-5 percent), but Germany, Italy and France delivered-up 19 percent, 27 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Spain, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland were pretty good to us as well.

Though travel to Asia is likely to decline in the coming year, travel from the region (to the United States at least) is sending mixed signals. South Korean visitors are down slightly, but the number of people trekking from China jumped 26 percent. Japan, which accounts for 52 percent of all Asian visitors to the United States, is down 7 percent year-over-year.

Are you a travel stats junkie? Click here to take a closer look at the data.