Americans still spending everywhere else

Last year, 63.6 million Americans traveled abroad, a 1 percent drop from 2007, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. This was the first fall since 2002. Nonetheless, spending grew fro the fifth year in a row to $112.3 billion – up 7 percent from 2007. Americans spent $79.7 billion in foreign countries, with the balance ($32.6 billion) coming from air transportation.

Mexico bucked the trend in 2008: travel from the United States grew by 4 percent. Travel to Canada, the other nearby destination, dropped 7 percent, and overseas excursions were off 1 percent.

In addition to being the top destination for Americans abroad, Mexico led in spending. Americans dropped $11.1 billion with its neighbor to the south, followed by the United Kingdom ($10.5 billion), Canada ($7.3 billion), Germany ($6.3 billion) and Japan ($5.2 billion). U.S. travelers set spending records last year in Germany, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, the Netherlands and Argentina.

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.

Where do most Americans go on holiday?

The Guardian 2007 Travel Awards gave us an idea of British travel trends, so I thought it would be interesting to see some American ones.

Compiled by the US Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, the top 10 countries Americans visited the most in 2006 are:
3)UK — gives Americans “the feeling that they’re going somewhere different, but also that they’re home.”
7)Jamaica — Americans feel it’s “familiar yet mysterious”.

The list isn’t a surprise; however it’s hard to track where Americans go once they’ve left the States.

Nevertheless, basis this list, the article draws some conclusions:

  • Americans are generally drawn to the familiar.
  • A good section of Americans are adventurous as they venture to different continents (China has broken into the top 10), and are exploring non-cliché parts of destinations such as the UK and France.
  • The economic and political image of the country Americans travel to, matters.
  • The fall in the dollar is compensated for in European countries simply by spending less!

The full piece and statistics can be found here.