ITA - Office of Travel and Tourism Industries

 

National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO)



DATA SUSPENSION FAQs



What happened?

  • The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) has temporarily suspended data releases on overseas arrivals to the United States pending resolution of underlying technical issues with a significant number of records received from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). No overseas data will be reported by NTTO beyond the preliminary data previously released on March 7, 2018, until the records are properly identified, categorized, and counted, at which time NTTO will reprocess and republish the data.

  • NTTO uses data gathered by CBP to calculate overseas arrivals to the United States, including those who are traveling for business, leisure, educational and medical purposes, and staying one night or more. Residents of the United States are not counted as visitors.

  • In conducting due diligence on records received from CBP on arrivals to the United States in 2017, NTTO identified significant and increasing anomalies affecting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) I-94 visitor arrivals data.

  • NTTO detected a meaningful and increasing number of non-U.S. citizens traveling on visas to the United States and being categorized as U.S. residents. NTTO has identified as many as 4.5 million raw 2017 records of non-U.S. citizens traveling on visas to the United States being categorized as U.S. residents.

  • Those travelers were removed from the visitor count of overseas travelers arriving into the United States, resulting in a potential undercount for 2017. 

 

Who is affected?

  • ITA has a legislative mandate to publish statistics on international travel to the United States.

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) uses this data when calculating the balance of trade, as expenditures by these visitors are counted as exports for the United States. In 2016, travel and tourism accounted for 11 percent of all U.S. exports and 33 percent of all services exports. The United States realized an $83.9 billion balance of trade surplus for travel and tourism in 2016. This data is also used by destinations and private-sector companies in expanding exports, and by U.S. government agencies in the development of policy.

  • Destinations, airlines, airports and other private sector companies use this data to market the United States as a travel destination to targeted customers in selected foreign markets. These data-driven marketing campaigns are designed to increase U.S. travel and tourism exports through additional sales in foreign markets. The anomalies found in the preliminary data may represent a potential undercount of non-resident, foreign travelers to the United States as reported on the I-94 form.  Preliminary analysis of the CBP data suggest that the economic impact of travel to the United States may be upwardly adjusted.

  • The Centers for Disease Control uses residency data in case of a pandemic to assess travel patterns.

 

What is the impact?

  • Preliminary data may reflect a potential undercount of U.S. visitors in 2017.  If these 4.5 million records are reviewed and recognized as legitimate international visitors, it is very likely that NTTO will report a 3-4 percent increase in overall visitation and BEA may revise the balance of trade in travel services upward.

  • NTTO publishes Canada and Mexico visitor arrivals data sourced from Statistics Canada and Banco de Mexico, respectively.  As a result, the suspension only affects overseas arrivals provided to NTTO by CBP and data for Canada and Mexico will continue to be reported. 

 

What is NTTO doing about it?

  • NTTO has suspended data releases on overseas arrivals to the United States pending resolution of underlying technical issues with a significant number of records received from CBP. No overseas arrivals data will be reported by NTTO beyond the preliminary data previously released on March 7, 2018, until the records are properly identified, categorized, and counted, at which time, NTTO will reprocess and republish the data.

  • NTTO has engaged its contractor to test the preliminary data to assess the scope of the problem. 

  • Once more is known about the travelers represented in this population, NTTO will better know what will be required, how long it will take and how much it will cost.

  • CBP has indicated that they will not reissue the data, but has provided NTTO with additional data that may assist in resolving the issue in this instance.

  • NTTO is looking to CBP to develop a long-term solution to this issue.

  • NTTO is committed to providing accurate statistics on international travelers to the United States as defined by international standards for the travel and tourism sector.