VISITOR NUMBERS TO U.S. TO IMPROVE BY 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Victoria Park
October 21, 2003            (202) 482-0310

COMMERCE FORECAST: VISITOR NUMBERS TO U.S. TO IMPROVE BY 2004

International visitor levels to the United States are expected to improve by 2004, according to new figures released by the Commerce Department. The latest figures were announced today at the Travel Industry Association's (TIA) Marketing Outlook and are part of the Commerce Department's semi-annual Forecast of International Travel to the United States.

"While the Commerce Department's latest figures show that international visitors are continuing to regain confidence in traveling to the United States, there is still much work to do," said Linda Conlin, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development. "The U.S. travel and tourism industry has been hit hard by the declines of the past three years, and the Bush Administration will continue to remain committed to seeing the tourism industry thrive as a key driver of the U.S. economy."

The revised forecast projects that visitation levels to the United States will increase by 16 percent between 2002 and 2007. Although 2003 arrivals to the country are estimated to show a decline of four percent, the forecast indicates an average annual growth rate of five percent for 2004 through 2006. The growth rate is projected to level off at four percent in 2007.

The overseas markets are primarily responsible for the improved long-term forecast. The strength of growth with markets beyond the top ten offers a wider source of international visitors exploring the United States.

EUROPE
Visitors from Europe are expected to return noticeably by 2004 and beyond. Nearly 11 million European visitors are projected to travel to the United States in 2007 (a growth of 28 percent). The United Kingdom will maintain its rank as the top overseas market (up 33 percent), with healthy growth from Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Ireland.

ASIA
Although Asia's recovery will continue to be slow, with an estimated fifteen percent decline in 2003, the region is expected to grow by 12 percent to 6.4 million visitors by the end of 2007. Japan, the largest Asian market and second overseas market, is forecasted to reach 3.9 million visitors by 2007 (up 8 percent). Strong long-term increases are estimated for South Korea (up 30 percent) and India (up 49 percent) by 2007.

SOUTH AMERICA
South America is projected to expand by 9 percent, with the fastest growth from Colombia and Argentina.

OCEANIA
Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) is forecasted to outpace international growth with a 19 percent expansion from 2002 to 2007.

Travel and tourism represents the top services export for the United States and has produced a travel trade surplus since 1989 (over $7 billion in 2002). For more information visit http://tinet.ita.doc.gov.