Five signs people are traveling to the U.S. from overseas, recovery in progress

Travel to the United States from overseas is up drastically from last year. For the first seven months of 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, foreign visitation is up 12 percent relative to the same period in 2009. In July alone, 6.3 million people came to the country, a whopping 15 percent gain from July 2009, making it the tenth month in a row in which arrivals increased.

And, finally, these folks are spending more.

From January through July, foreign visitors dropped $76.7 billion into the U.S. economy, a 10 percent jump from last year. They spent $11.6 billion in July 2010, a surge of 18 percent and an indication of a pleasant financial trajectory. Spending by overseas visitors to the United States has grown year-over-year every month in 2010.

So, what do the details look like? There’s a lot of good news, the U.S. Department of Commerce reveals. Here are five stats that are sure to delight the U.S. tourism and travel industry:
1. Seventeen of the top 20 countries for U.S. visitation registered increases in people traveling here for the first seven months of the year – the only declines were from the United Kingdom, Venezuela and Ireland.

2. Twelve of these countries experienced double-digit increases, including Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China and Australia.

3. In July this year, 19 of the top 20 countries posted year-over-year gains, with Venezuela the lone holdout (down a modest 1 percent).

4. Double-digit gains came in July for 15 of the top 20 countries.

5. Arrivals from overseas locations (i.e., not Canada or Mexico) increased 15 percent from July to July and 12 percent from the first seven months of 2009 to the first seven months of 2010.

And, Canada has been busy. Air arrivals from our northern neighbor shot up 20 percent in July 2010, with land arrivals up 16 percent. For the year, air is up 15 percent, and land is up 12 percent. Mexico posted double-digit growth for both forms of arrival for both the month of July and the first seven months of 2010.

Of course, you don’t learn much by comparing 2009 to 2010, because 2009 was such a disaster. The effects of the financial crisis lingered, squeezing wallets shut and keeping people at home. So, you have to look back to 2008 to see if we’ve made any real progress.

Well, the news is positive. Visits from overseas increased 1 percent from the first seven months of 2009 to the first seven months of 2010. From July 2009 to July 2010, we experienced a 7 percent increase.

People are getting on planes again, and they’re visiting us. The travel market is coming back, but we’re still early in the process.

[photo by pheezy via Flickr]