Tough 2009 ahead for international visits, 2010 comeback

We all expected it: fewer international visitors are going to come to the United States this year. Overall, revenue from foreign guests is expected to fall 8 percent, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Twenty-four of the top five arrival markets are likely to drop. Drops of 13 percent, 12 percent and 11 percent are likely for Ireland, Spain and Mexico, respectively, with the United Kingdom and France posting declines of around 10 percent. Canada’s anticipated drop is 6 percent.

Visits from Europe should fall 9 percent this year – the largest regional decline. It will take until 2013 for European visits to the United States to return to 2008 levels. The Asia-Pacific region is projected to fall l5 percent this year but will grow at a rate of 21 percent through 2013, leading to more than a net recovery, especially for India, China, South Korea and Australia. The 4 percent decline in South America is forecasted to turn around by 2013, with visits growing 23 percent relative to 2008. This will make it the second-fastest growing region in the world for foreign visitors to the United States.

Globally, visits to the United States from abroad are projected to grow 3 percent in 2010, followed by a 5 percent annual growth rate through 2013.