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U.S. total International Travel Abroad drops for second straight year
After nine years of continual growth in U.S. outbound travel, the country registered two straight years of declining numbers of international travelers. In 2002, almost 56.4 million U.S. residents traveled abroad for one night or longer. This was down from almost 58 million in 2001. U.S. outbound travel peaked in 2000 at 60.9 million travelers, up from 43.9 million in 1992.
The top destination in 2002 U.S. travelers going abroad was Mexico. In 2002, U.S. travel to our southern neighbor totaled 16.8 million, down 2 percent. Travel to Mexico has been less consistent than the estimates for travel to other destinations. There have been as many increases as declines in travel to Mexico over the last 10 years, and travel has declined for the last two years from 18.8 million in 2000 to the current 17.2 million last year.
Canada continues to narrow the gap to challenge Mexico as the number one destination for U.S. international travelers. In 2002, 16.2 million U.S. travelers visited our northern neighbor. This was a 4 percent increase over 2001. Canada has only seen two declines in the last seven years and has posted two straight years of growth from the United States market. The only other destination among the top 25 markets to post two straight years of growth in visitation from the United States was the People’s Republic of China.
U.S. travel to overseas markets in 2002 declined by 7 percent to 23.4 million travelers. This is the second straight decline in U.S. travel to countries other than Canada and Mexico. In 2001, travel to overseas countries declined by 6 percent.
The top overseas markets visited by U.S. travelers were: the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. The only market to see an increase in 2002 among these top destinations was Japan, which increased to almost 1.3 million in visitation numbers. To see the other top 25 markets for U.S. outbound travel go to: https://travel.trade.gov/view/f-2002-08-001/index.html
Since 1992, the destination that saw the largest change in visitation between 1992 and 2002 was the People’s Republic of China. It saw a 245 percent increase when compared to the 1992 visitation estimate.
In addition to the travel volume estimates, OTTI’s outbound
page also provides spending figures for U.S. travelers going abroad.
In 2002, spending by U.S. travelers going abroad totaled over $78
billion, down 6 percent from 2001. The peak year for U.S. travel
spending abroad was 2000 when they spent almost $89 billion. To
see the spending figures, go to:
The Office of Tourism Industries has also released a profile of the U.S. travelers who visited overseas destinations (which excludes Canada and Mexico). The profile provides key information on the travel patterns, traveler characteristics and spending by U.S. travelers going abroad. In addition to providing an overall profile, a further breakdown is provided for leisure/VFR travelers and those on a business/convention trip. There are 32 different pieces of information on the U.S. outbound traveler that can assist the industry into understanding who these travelers are and what they do.
Some of the top highlights include: The top cities of origin for U.S. travel to overseas destinations in 2002 were: New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Miami. Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose and Nassau, NY are all tied as the fifth largest city of residence of the U.S travelers visiting overseas destinations (overseas excludes Canada and Mexico).
Other highlights from the U.S. outbound profile were: the advance decision and airline reservation times were down, the Internet continues to grow in importance as a source of information and for booking international airline reservations. The use of packages declined to only 11 percent of overseas travelers in 2002. The main purpose of the overseas trip was for leisure/recreation/holiday (37% of the travelers). Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) was the second highest main purpose of trip. The average length of their trip was 15.9 nights outside the USA. Only 5 percent of travelers were on their first international trip, and the average number of trips taken by U.S. travelers going overseas in the last 12 months was 3.1. The top activities for U.S. travelers were: dining in restaurants, shopping, visiting historical places, sightseeing in cities and visiting small towns and villages. The average international air fare was $1,409, and the average trip expenditures per trip were $1,332 per visitor. There were more males traveling abroad than females. The average age of males and females was almost 43 years old. The average household income was $110,300.
To learn more about the U.S. outbound market for 2002, visit the OTTI outbound web site page. There are nine different tables with data on the outbound market at: https://travel.trade.gov/outreachpages/outbound.general_information.outbound_overview.html
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Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration
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