It's not a surprise that Chinese tourists will be driving arrivals over the next four years, but expectations for substantial growth out of South America and Middle East prove that the U.S. needs to ease visa restrictions and increase marketing worldwide to make the most of the increase.
The United States is expected to see international visitor arrivals increase up to 4.3 percent annually for the next four years, according to National Travel and Tourism Office’s 2013 Fall Travel Forecast.
This puts the country on track to welcome 83.9 million foreign visitors in 2018, up 26 percent from the 66.7 million visitors that arrived in 2012.
The greatest growth is expected from South America where a 65 percent hike in visitation would drive 7.3 million South America travelers into the U.S. in 2018. The growth is expected to be led by Argentinian (78%), Colombian (66%), and Brazilian (70%) tourists.
Visitor arrivals from Asia and the Middle East are also expected to grow 59 percent and 60 percent, respectively.
Arrival growth out of Asia will be driven by China. Chinese visitors to America are expected to increase 219 percent, more than any other country over the six year period.
Middle East growth will be driven by Saudi Arabia. The report forecasts arrivals from Saudi Arabia to increase 152 percent.
Despite these impressively large growth predictions, the largest percentage of visitors to the U.S. still come from its neighbors Canada and Mexico. Arrivals from Canada and Mexico accounted for 55 percent of all visitors in 2012, and are expected to still account for 52 percent of arrivals in 2018.
|Visitor Origin Region||Actual 2012||Forecast 2018||Change 2012-2018|
Source: National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO)
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Photo credit: Chinese tourists eat hot dogs and pizza outside of Central Park in New York City. Ed Yourdon / Flickr