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TI News: Information service from the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI)

February 20, 2013

INTERNATIONAL VISITATION UP EIGHT PERCENT IN SEPTEMBER 2012

The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that 5.8 million international visitors traveled to the United States in September 2012, an eight percent increase over September 2011. September 2012 registered the 18th straight month of increases in total U.S. visits.

In September 2012, the top inbound markets continued to be Canada and Mexico with each market up nine percent and seven percent, respectively. Eight of the nine overseas regions were up in September 2012 (Asia +14%, South America +17%, Oceania +17%, Middle East +19%, Caribbean +6%, Central America +7%, Eastern Europe +8%, and Africa +17%) Western Europe registered the only decline, down two percent in September 2012 compared to a year ago.

For the first nine months of 2012, visitation (50.5 million) was up six percent compared to the same period in 2011.

Highlights
Overseas Resident Visitation

  • In September 2012, overseas resident visitation (2.8 million) was up seven percent over September 2011.
  • September YTD 2012, overseas resident visits (22.4 million) were up seven percent compared to the same period of 2011.

Top 10 Countries

  • In September 2012, eight of the top 10 countries posted increases in resident visitation.
  • During the first nine months of 2012, seven of the top 10 countries (sort based on September 2012) posted increases in visitation to the United States.

Top 10 Countries (Sort based on September 2012)

Country of Residence % Change September
2012 vs. 2011
% Change YTD September
2012 vs. 2011
  Canada 9% 6%
  Mexico 7% 6%
  United Kingdom 0% -2%
  Japan 10% 14%
  Germany 4% 5%
  Brazil 15% 18%
  People's Republic of China (EXCL HK) 34% 39%
  Australia 16% 7%
  France -5% -2%
  South Korea 10% 7%

Top Ports: YTD September 2012
YTD September 2012, visitation through the top 15 ports of entry accounted for 80 percent of all overseas visits, a little less than one percentage point below last year. The top three ports (New York, Miami and Los Angeles) accounted for 39 percent of all overseas arrivals, nearly one percentage point below last year. Twelve of the top 15 ports posted increases in arrivals during the first nine months of 2012. Five of these ports posted double-digit increases.

DHS Working to Improve the Travel Process for U.S. Visitors
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is diligently working to improve the entry process for U.S. visitors by automating the white CBP Form I-94 card. Currently, when a Foreign National (FN) from non-visa waiver countries enters the United States in a non-immigrant status, they are issued a 2-part white I-94 card. Federal regulations mandate the issuance of I-94 cards to FN entrants. So in order for the I-94 to be fully automated and the paper I-94 card eliminated entirely, an interim final rule is being cleared by OMB to change the Federal regulations. Along with revising the rule, the CBP is designing a system that will automate the I-94 process that will be responsible for electronically issuing I-94 numbers and tracking departure information without the necessity for manual data entry. Automating the I-94 card will offer processing advantages - enhanced data integrity with the elimination of manual keypunching and interpretation of handwritten entries, quicker data turn-around for reporting purposes, enhanced matching of arrival to departure records; and continued use of all data fields included in the current white I-94 card.

Backlog in I-94 Data Entry Process
Please note that the current processing time for entering foreign visitors' travel information into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection I-94 database has reached ten weeks or more. This backlog is having a negative effect on OTTI's processing cycle for issuing timely U.S. visitation data.

Access to OTTI Data
Industry & Analysis' Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) collects, analyzes and disseminates international travel and tourism statistics from the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System. OTTI produces visitation data tables, including a more detailed region, country and port analyses. To access these data, you are encouraged to visit the OTTI monthly arrivals page at <http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2012-I-001/index.html>.


Throughout this report, percent changes posted for international visitation to the United States for September 2012 were calculated by comparing data in September 2012 to data in September 2011. Also, percent changes posted for year to date 2012 were calculated by comparing data January - September 2012 to data January - September 2011.