Skift Take

A topsy-turvy last few years in global economics has changed the tourism industry, possibly forever. Expect to see more U.S. cities and states seeking to court Latino travelers, who, studies say, spend big money on their trips.

The growth of international visits to the U.S. by travelers from the Far East and Latin America grew by double-digit percentages in 2012 while visits from Western Europe declined, according to a report by the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI).

Overall tourism to the U.S. from overseas was up 7 percent in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, but a breakdown of those numbers by region and country reflect the global eastward shift in both buying power and travel inclination that we’ve been tracking all year.

That was the case with Europe, certainly. There, the countries traditionally responsible for sending millions of travelers to the States each year saw their outbound numbers to the U.S. decline as they struggled to recover from the European Union’s financial crisis. According to OTTI, “Five of the top 15 overseas countries of origin posted declines in 2012 arrivals, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.”

The countries just to the east of the Euro Zone fared a bit better. The numbers in the charts below represent the percent change in U.S.-bound tourists from each region in 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.

In Europe, western countries reduced their tendency to send visitors to the U.S., while their neighbors to the east helped to make up the difference.

Percentage Change in U.S.-Bound Tourism from Europe

1ST Q 8.2 8.7
2ND Q 8.6 -5.2
3RD Q 5.3 -2.9
4TH Q 10.4 -4.8
YEAR 8 -2

Asia and the Middle East continued to increase their output of U.S.-bound tourists, in line with those regions’ recent economic success.

Percentage Change in U.S.-Bound Tourism from Major Eastern Sources

1ST Q 12 22.3 7.6 8.5 39.4
2ND Q 19.3 18.5 10.6 23.5 42.7
3RD Q 13.5 10.7 4.1 12.5 35.8
4TH Q 14.3 7.6 16.1 13.1 23.6
YEAR 14.7 14.1 9.3 13.8 35.3

But the biggest growth came from emerging markets, especially in South America. In particular, Venezuela and Colombia led the charge, both contributing almost 40 percent more tourists to the U.S. so far in 2013 than they did last year.

Percentage Change in U.S.-Bound Tourism from South America

1ST Q 20.4 22.8 19.8 26 28.4
2ND Q 13.8 20.2 18.7 10.9 16.1
3RD Q 15.7 19.3 14.5 19.3 21.2
4TH Q 20.4 17.6 21.9 30.3 18.2
YEAR 17.6 20 18.8 21.2 20.3

The final numbers from the OTTI were delayed this year because the agency changed to a new system of compiling data and the type of questionnaire it uses to collect data from travelers.

See the full report here:


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Tags: tourism

Photo credit: Beatriz Cesari, left, and her friend Sylvia Schleier, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, look at watches as they shop in Miami, Florida. South American travelers spend more per capita than any most any other visitors to the U.S. Felipe Dana / Associated Press

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