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On the heels of a downbeat year for U.S. tourism, the U.S. Department of Commerce on Friday painted a rosy picture for U.S. international visitation over the next five years.
The department projects nearly 89 million international travelers will visit the country per year in 2022.
For 2018, the Commerce Department projects that that number of international travelers visiting the U.S. would rise 3.9 percent to 78 million. When excluding Canada and Mexico, overseas arrivals would grow 4.9 percent year-over-year.
This is all on paper, though.
If these projections pan out, it would be a significant turnaround from the previous two years when international arrivals to the U.S. fell 2 percent in 2016, and preliminary data suggest total arrivals fell about one percent in 2017.
Last week, The U.S. Travel Association launched a Visit U.S. Coalition with various travel, restaurant, and gaming industry associations in the hope it can get the White House on board with a more pro-tourism stance.
It’s unclear how effective such a coalition will actually be. With its travel bans and anti-immigrant stance, President Donald Trump has been anathema to most of what the travel industry stands for. But the commerce department forecast purports to show that all is well with U.S. tourism.
Since the global financial crisis in 2009, international arrivals to the U.S. grew an average of 3.9 percent per year, which would put the 2018 projection of 3.9 percent in line with trends of the past decade.
In 2018, the forecast shows all of the United States’ 20 largest visitor markets would; Venezuela as a source market would drop 8 percent.
By 2022, some standout markets would include China, South Korea, and India, which are predicted to grow 53, 46 and 20 percent, respectively, from 2016 and 2022.
It’s important to remember that while the United States’ share of international tourism has been in free-fall for the past two years, many other countries in Europe and Asia have grabbed more of the pie.