2000 International Arrivals to the United States
2000 Quarterly Analysis on Arrivals to the United States - Fourth Quarter

     A record 50.9 million international travelers visited the United States in 2000. This represents a 5 percent growth rate in arrivals to the United States. Canada's more stable economy, a recovering Asia, and Western Europe's and South America's overall economic growth, all played a major role in helping the U.S. set another record for international arrivals. Among the top 20 markets in 2000, several countries had a record-breaking year including the United Kingdom, France, Venezuela, Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Israel, and Sweden. According to the preliminary world international arrivals estimates for 2000 reported by the World Tourism Organization, the United States was the second most popular destination worldwide, behind only France, who generated 74.5 million visitors last year.

     Overseas arrivals grew 6 percent, totaling 25.9 million visitors, a growth rate double that of last year. The overseas arrivals, for the second year standing, comprised 51 percent of the total international arrivals to the United States. Europe comprised the largest market representing half of the arrivals pie. Asia comprised nearly 30 percent of all arrivals to the U.S. and Latin America represented almost 20 percent. Overseas includes all countries except Canada and Mexico.

     Arrivals from Western Europe were up by less than half of the forecasted level. This slower growth should not come as a surprise, given the relative weakness of the major European currencies against the US dollar during the last year. Most of the countries belonging to the European Monetary Union experienced the Euro depreciation, which declined 13 percent against the US dollar. The correlation between the weaker European currency and the European visitor arrivals to the United States was particularly noticeable, especially during the second half of the year. This meant that the real purchasing power of most of the European travelers went down by almost 14 percent.

     Actually, arrivals from Europe are a two-part story in 2000. For the first half of the year, the U.S. saw positive growth from most European countries, with the exception of Germany. For the second half of the year, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland all showed declines in arrivals. Among the top seven markets in Europe, annual declines were seen in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain. France, Netherlands, and Sweden registered positive growth for calendar year 2000, though they posted declines each month in the second half of 2000. Without the growth experienced from the United Kingdom, arrivals to the U.S. from Europe would have been down by nearly 2 percent.

Shifts in the Overseas Market Rankings - The Top Ten List

     Japan continues to top the overseas arrivals market for the United States in 2000. However, Japan has been losing ground to the United Kingdom for the past two years. Japan had 5.1 million arrivals in 2000, a 5 percent increase. This marks the first annual increase since 1997 and brings Japan's total arrivals close to their 1997 record of 5.3 million. Japan accounts for over two-thirds of all arrivals from Asia.

     The United Kingdom surpassed forecast expectations and is now trailing Japan in 2nd place by only half a million arrivals. Together, Japan and the United Kingdom accounted for almost 40 percent of all overseas travel to the United States. British arrivals grew by 11 percent over the last year, reaching its peak of 4.7 million in 2000. The larger-than-expected growth rate in arrivals may be attributable to the stronger growth rate in their economy for the third and fourth quarters combined with the lowest unemployment rate in 25 years. The United Kingdom has seen six consecutive years in record arrivals growth.

     Germany maintained its 3rd position, despite a 10 percent decline in arrivals. German arrivals were well below the forecast for 2000, accounting for nearly 1.8 million arrivals, the market's lowest level since 1997. The weakness of their currency, double-digit unemployment rates and a moderate slowdown in economic growth, all contributed to the decline of German arrivals to the United States.

     France remains ranked in 4th place. French arrivals had a 3 percent growth rate, totaling 1.1 million in 2000 - the highest number and continuing the trend of consistent growth over the last decade. France appears to be the bright spot in Europe, which is likely justified by the fact that the France experienced a 3.6 percent growth in their economy, having performed better than most of its European counterparts. France has set records for arrivals to the U.S. for the last six years.

     Brazil rounds out the top five with a dramatic rebound in 2000, reversing a two-year decline. The Brazilian economy actually performed better throughout 2000 than expected thus contributing to the more than 737,000 Brazilian arrivals, an 11 percent growth rate from 1999. This continues to be a major market for the United States and with a strengthening economy, it is possible to realize their growth potential.

     South Korea's double-digit growth in 2000 moved its rank from 10th place in 1999 to 6th place in 2000. South Korea's movement in rank displaced Italy, Venezuela, the Netherlands, and Argentina. South Korea experienced a 33 percent growth rate, close to forecast expectations and similar to the 37 percent growth rate in 1999. More than 662,000 arrivals helped South Korea move closer to reaching their record 749,000, experienced visitors in 1996.

     Italian arrivals were down 2 percent to 612,000 in 2000, reversing the 3 percent growth in 1999. Italian arrivals had been increasing throughout the last few years after several declines in the early part of the last decade. Italy experienced a slightly higher-than-expected inflation this year, greatly affecting real disposable incomes, and thus translating into less spending and less travel to the U.S.

     Venezuelan arrivals ranked as the 8th largest overseas arrivals market. Venezuela's 4 percent growth exceeded forecast levels with a record 578,000 arrivals. This continues a growth trend over the last six years producing an astounding 30 percent growth rate since 1994. The Venezuelan economy expanded 3 percent in 2000, contributing to the growth in arrivals. The highest levels for growth from Venezuela were during the Easter and Christmas holiday periods with 39 percent and 50 percent increases, respectively, compared to the previous year.

     The Netherland's grew at a rate of 5 percent with a record-high 553,000 arrivals, ranking it ninth. This market has experienced growth throughout much of the last ten years and this year marks no exception. The Netherlands growth rate since 1994 is 33 percent and has set record arrival figures since 1994. Dutch arrivals were especially strong during the first half of the year.

     Australia joined the top ten list with over half a million arrivals and a double-digit growth rate. This marks the second year in a row for increases from Australia, fully recouping the losses from 1998 and exceeding the 1997 peak with 540,000. The Australian dollar strengthened and the economy grew by more than 4 percent in 2000. Despite hosting the Olympics in 2000, a great number of Australians traveled to the United States propelling it into the tenth largest overseas market.

     Argentina, while displaced from the top ten to be ranked at 11th, was the only other country with more than half-a-million arrivals. Argentina grew at a rate of 6 percent for a total of 534,000 arrivals. Argentina exceeded the forecasted growth rate and continues to be a strong market within Latin America for the United States, having rebounded from a decline last year.

     The top markets that round out the top twenty include China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, Colombia, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, and Sweden. China/Hong Kong as a combined market reached over 492,000 arrivals. Taiwan continues to grow with 457,000 arrivals, followed by Colombia with 417,000 arrivals. Colombia has now set records for 12 straight years of continual growth in arrivals to the U.S. This is the largest growth in any of the top 20 inbound markets. Switzerland and Spain, affected by weakened exchange rates against the dollar, experienced only slight declines in growth rate, with 395,000 and 361,000 arrivals, respectively. Israel surpassed the 325,000 arrivals market in 2000, setting its eighth straight year of continual growth in arrivals to the United States. Sweden rounds out the top 20 with 322,000 arrivals.

Canada and Mexico

     Canadian arrivals reached almost 15 million in 2000, continuing an increase also experienced in 1999. Over the past eight years, this is only the third period of growth experienced in Canadian arrivals to the United States. The 2000 increase occurred despite a minimal gain in the strength of the Canadian Dollar against the U.S. Dollar. This growth can be attributed to combined factors of faster growth in their economy for 2000 compared to 1999, record low unemployment rates, and increased consumer confidence.

     Preliminary* Mexican total arrivals for 2000 were 10.3 million, up 4 percent compared to the previous year. Air arrivals grew at a rate of 17 percent for a total of 1.7 million arrivals. Positive signs of increased political and economic stability bode well for the future of Mexico.

                         * Note that Mexico figures are preliminary. They will be updated accordingly.