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The U.S. welcomed a record 75 million international visitors last year, with Canada and Mexico remaining the top countries for visitor arrivals to the U.S. with nearly 40 million inbound U.S. arrivals between the two, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced this week.

But arrivals from China saw the most growth from last year (up 21.1%) followed by Mexico (up 19.2%). Brazil and China each had more than two million arrivals to the U.S. in 2014 putting them in the top 10 countries with the most arrivals. Colombia and India also had some of the highest percentages of year-over-year growth, 17.8% and 11.9% respectively.

Besides North America, Western Europe remained the region contributing the second highest number of international arrivals last year (12.7 million visitors) and Canada held onto its status as the country with the most international arrivals to the U.S. (22.9 million visitors).

Perhaps not surprising is Venezuela’s 21.8% year-over-year decrease in U.S. arrivals given its government hasn’t made it easy for Venezuelans to travel and U.S. carriers have slashed flights to and from the country.

Georgia and Washington State saw the highest year-over-year increases for states where international visitation grew more than 20% and Atlanta and San Diego saw the most growth for cities, each about a 25% increase.

The announcement of last year’s international tourist arrivals record follows an earlier release of a report outlining a plan targeting tech upgrades needed at the 17 U.S. airports that account for nearly three quarters of all international arrivals to the U.S. The plan is part of the Obama Administration’s goal to attract 100 million international travelers to the U.S. by 2021.

The Commerce and Homeland Security departments sent their joint recommendations to the Obama Administration in February and Tim Truman, a commerce department spokesperson, tells Skift both departments are now “moving forward” on the recommendations.

Reasons for the Record

Here are other statistics helping make 2014 a record year for international visitation to the U.S.:

  • International leisure travelers to the U.S. estimated at a record 23.5 million travelers in 2014 increased 10% from 2013. Countries producing increases in leisure travel included the U.K., Brazil, Germany, France, Australia, China and South Korea. Most of the top U.S. destinations experienced growth in leisure travelers, with Florida and California at double digits. Florida and California both set records in 2014 for the most travelers visiting the state for a vacation.
  • Visiting friends and relatives estimated at 10.4 million travelers was up 13% year-over-year.
  • International business travel to the U.S., estimated at 5.2 million arrivals, increased 5% in 2014. Asia, not including Japan, was the only region with an increase in U.S.-bound business travelers. New York and California remain the largest business markets but there was considerable growth in business travel to Florida and Massachusetts.
  • Convention travel, estimated at three million travelers, was flat when compared to 2013.

The charts below show regional visitation growth and also growth from the top 10 inbound markets to the U.S. in 2014:

Ranking of Regions With Most Visitor Arrivals to the U.S. in 2014

Region Total Visitors to U.S. % Change 2013 to 2014
North America (Canada and Mexico) 40.2 million 8.7
Western Europe 12.7 million 6.2
Asia 9.6 million 6.1
South America 5.4 million 6.6
Oceania 1.5 million 8.6
Caribbean 1.3 million 15.8
Middle East 1.2 million 15.8
Eastern Europe 947K 10.2
Central America 932K 11.9
Africa 513K 16.8
Total Overseas 75 million 7.4

Top 10 Countries of Origin for U.S. International Visitor Arrivals in 2014

Country of Origin Total Visitors to U.S. % Change 2013 to 2014
Canada 22.9 million -1.8
Mexico* 17.3 million 19.2
United Kingdom 3.9 million 3.6
Japan 3.5 million -4
Brazil* 2.2 million 9.9
China 2.1 million 21.1
Germany 1.9 million 2.7
France* 1.6 million 8
South Korea* 1.4 million 6.6
Australia* 1.2 million 5.9

*Indicates countries with a record number of visits to the U.S. in 2014

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

Tags: skiftstats, usa
Photo Credit: Miami was the second most visited U.S. city by international travelers in 2014. Pictured here are blue skies at a Miami beach. Ed Webster / Flickr