Analysis of the U.S. Citizen Outbound Market
 Final Calendar Year 2001


General Overview

For the past several years, the U.S outbound travel market has been going extremely well. Each year since 1991, the U.S has set new records for travel abroad. That changed in 2001 but only after September 11th. In order to better understand the outbound travel market for 2001, let's look back on prior years. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, majority of the economic indicators show that the U.S. economy is no longer in recession. In 2000, U.S. travel payments increased 10 percent to $65 billion, following a 4 percent increase in 1999. The growth in payments for overseas travel accelerated as average expenditures by U.S. travelers abroad increased one percent, and as the overseas travel increased 9 percent. The step-up in U.S travel overseas reflected the strong growth of the U.S. economy and the appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the currencies of several countries that are popular U.S. destinations. Travel to the countries in the euro area was exceptionally strong, driven by the sharp depreciation of the euro against the U.S. dollar. Payments to Mexico and Canada also increased.

With this in mind, it is easy to see why the U.S. citizen outbound travel was increasing in 2001. Before the attacks, both overseas and total U.S. citizen outbound air travel, were up by 2 percent from the previous year. With almost 9.2 million U.S. citizen outbound air travelers, Europe recorded a 3 percent increase over the same time period from 2000. Canada and Oceania also registered a 3 percent increase; while Africa recorded a 12 percent increase and South America and Central America recorded 5 percent and 4 percent increases respectively. The Middle East was the only region to record a decline. And then the September 11 attacks changed all of it.

Overall Trend

Final data reveals that total U.S. citizen annual international air departures in 2001 were just over 33.6 million travelers, a 6 percent decrease compared to the 35.7 million air travelers in 2000. Total U.S. citizens air departures in 2001 for just overseas destinations also decreased by 6 percent with 25.2 million travelers compared to 26.9 million in 2000. The largest decrease in U.S. citizen departures for 2001, as compared to 2000, was recorded for the Middle East market with a 25 percent decline. The lowest percent change decrease from 2001 to 2000 was recorded at negative 3 percent for the Canadian market. South and Central America recorded zero percent change from year 2000. In contrast, one world region registered growth in U.S. citizen air traffic departures in 2001. Africa showed a growth of one percent in U.S. citizen air travelers in 2001.

The September 11th attacks certainly changed the way Americans travel. It also changed where Americans travel. Data indicates that the sharpest declines following the attacks occurred in the Oceania region (Australia and New Zealand) with a 40 percent decline, followed by the Middle East with a 39 percent decline. However, examining the data closer shows that the steepest declines were in Europe with 984,000 less passengers traveling to Europe in 2001 as compared to 2000. Mexico was the second region with the steepest declines in actual traffic having lost 383,000 passengers. All other regional declines ranged from 5,000 to 249,000 travelers. There was only one region that was visited by more U.S. citizen air travelers in 2001 than in 2000. Africa recorded an increase of just over 2,000 more visitors in 2001 than in 2000. The data also shows that following the months after September, Central America rebounded the fastest with a 6 percent growth rate over the fourth quarter months.

Before the attacks, both overseas and total U.S. citizen outbound air travel were up by 2 percent from the previous year, on mark to set a new record for U.S. outbound air travel. In September, these both declined dramatically by 30 percent. The travel industry came to a screeching halt for several days. Major airports were closed and several stayed closed for weeks. October figures were registered at negative 28 percent, which indicated that some U.S. citizens had started to travel. By November, both overseas and total U.S citizen outbound traffic were registered at negative 20 percent, a 10-percentage point improvement from September and an 8-percentage point improvement from October. This was a good indication of recovery for the outbound travel market. This good news was underscored by the December declines of only 5 percent for overseas travel and 3 percent down for total traffic.

It appeared that by December U.S. citizen outbound air travel was returning to pre-September travel patterns. By this time the majority of the closed airports had reopened and many new security measures were installed and under new operations. The nation began to take charge of its weak points at the airports and across all travel corridors. The year end data for both overseas and total U.S. citizen outbound air travel revealed only a 6 percent decline from 2000.


Final U.S. Citizen Outbound Spending

The impact of the 6 percent decline in departures resulted in a 7 percent decline in U.S. spending abroad for 2001. Final estimates for 2001 indicate that the U.S. travelers spent $82.5 billion on travel and passenger fares combined, a decline of 6.6 billion as compared to year 2000. Spending by U.S. travelers to Canada (for all modes) was $7.2 billion, a 0.5 percent decline from year 2000. Mexico registered with a $7.5 billion in spending, a 0.5 percent decline from 2000. Overseas destinations saw a $67.9 billion in U.S. traveler's spending, a decline of 9 percent from 2000. Spending by U.S. travelers on travel and passenger fares to Europe in 2001 was $34.3 billion, a decline of 9 percent from 2000.

In order to better understand the effects of September 11on the outbound air departures, this analysis divides the year into eight segments: January - August, September, October, November, December, September - December, October - December (4th quarter), and Calendar Year 2001. The analysis focuses on Canada and Mexico, and the top two world regions for U.S. citizen outbound air traffic in 2001 as compared to 2000, and is provided to illustrate the changes that occurred in U.S. citizen outbound travel.

CANADA

Calendar Year 2001
Final U.S. citizen air departures to Canada decreased 3 percent in 2001 when compared to 2000. There were 3.8 million U.S. citizen air travelers to Canada in 2001 as compared to 3.9 million in 2000.

January - August
The total U.S. air departures from January to August in 2001 were 2.75 million travelers as compared to 2.67 million in 2000. This is a 3 percent increase from 2000 to 2001. The highest percent increase for this time period was 12 percent for Africa. The only region that saw a decline was the Middle East in which traffic dropped 24 percent.

September
U.S. departures for Canada were recorded at a negative 29 percent change between 2000 and 2001, which placed Canada in the midrange of all world region declines. In comparison, September 2001 figures for both total and overseas U.S. outbound travel declined 30 percent. In September of 2001, there were only about 265 thousand U.S. citizen air departures to Canada. In 2000, the U.S. citizen air departures to Canada were recorded at about 371 thousand.

October
The double digits declines continued into October, although registering at only negative 14 percent. From September to October Canada's declines improved by 15 percentage points, as compared to the same time last year, becoming one of the smallest declines among all world regions. However, when comparing September and October of 2001 number of air travelers, there was zero (0) percent change. About the same number of people traveled to Canada in both months. Canada is the only region to register zero (0) percent change between the two months.

November
November registered at an 18 percent decline, increasing 4 percentage points from the previous month. The difference in the 4 percentage points indicates that the U.S. citizen outbound air travel was hesitant and holding back on travel. However, Canada remained in the midpoint of all regional declines.

December
In December, the decline for Canada was only 7 percent when compared to December 2000, more than half the 18 percent decline in November of 2001. In December, there were four regions that registered declines for U.S. citizen air travel. Canada registered the second lowest decline next to Asia's 5 percent. The remaining regions showed increases for U.S. outbound air travel with the exception of the Caribbean which had zero (0) percent change in air traffic for December 2001 when comparing to 2000. The overall total decline for U.S. outbound travel in December was only 3 percent and 5 percent for total overseas travel.

September - December
In the months of September to December travel to Canada declined 18 percent. Canada's declines for this period were in the midranges of declines compared to the rest of the world regions. Comparatively, the total U.S. citizen outbound air travel for September through December was recorded at negative 20 percent. Central America was the only region that did not record a decline, instead staying level with 2000.

October - December (4th quarter)
The 4th quarter registered a 13 percent decline in Canada, once again in the midrange of all declines among all regions. The Middle East registered the highest percent decline with 36 percent. The smallest decline was registered in Oceania with 11 percent. Central America registered a 6 percent increase over the same time from the previous year.


MEXICO

Calendar Year 2001
Final U.S. citizen air departures to Mexico decreased 8 percent in 2001 when compared to 2000. There were 4.6 million U.S. citizens air travelers to Mexico in 2001 as compared to 5.0 million in 2000.

January - August
The total U.S. air departures from January to August in 2001 were 3.4 million travelers as compared to 3.3 million in 2000. The difference for January to August 2001 and 2000 was so small that Mexico registered no percent change in departures.

September
The September attacks had a devastating effect on U.S. departures for Mexico, which were recorded at a negative 35 percent between 2000 and 2001. This decrease was one of the highest registered in all of the world regions. Only two regions registered higher declines, the Middle East at negative 39 percent, and Oceania at negative 40 percent. However, when comparing the actual traffic volume, the Mexican region experienced a greater impact with a decline of about 114,000 U.S. citizen air travelers, while the Middle East declined by only 14,000 and Oceania declined by 30,000 U.S. citizen air outbound travelers.

October
The double digit declines continued into October, but registered a 24 percent decrease as compared to the September decline of 35 percent. From September to October Mexico's declines improved by 11 percentage points, as compared to the same time last year.

November
In November Mexico registered a negative 20 percent, improving 4 percentage points from the previous month. Comparatively, both total overseas and the grand total of air traffic both registered at 20 percent declines. For November, Mexico ranked in the midpoint of all other regional declines.

December
In December Mexico experienced an increase of 9 percent in U.S. citizen air outbound travel. Mexico's increase was one of smaller increases as those registered in other world regions. However, there was substantially more U.S. citizen air visitors traveling to Mexico than to the other regions that recorded increases.

September - December
In the months of September to December Mexico declined by an overall 18 percent. Mexico's declines for this period were in the midranges of declines compared to the rest of the world regions. Comparatively, the total U.S. citizen outbound air travel for September through December was recorded at negative 20 percent.

October - December (4th quarter)
The 4th quarter registered a 13 percent decline for Mexico, which was in the midrange of all declines for all regions. The Middle East registered the highest percent decline with 36 percent. The smallest decline was registered in Oceania with 11 percent. Central America registered a 6 percent increase over the same time from the previous year.

EUROPE

Calendar Year 2001
Final U.S. citizen air departures to Europe decreased 7 percent in 2001 when compared to 2000. There were 12.1 million U.S. citizen air travelers to Europe in 2001 as compared to 13.1 million in 2000.

January - August
The total U.S. air departures to Europe from January to August in 2001 were 9.15 million travelers as compared to 8.89 million in 2000. This was a 3 percent increase from 2000. The highest percent increase for this time period was 12 percent for Africa. The only region to register a decline was the Middle East, with a 24 percent decrease.

September
U.S. departures for Europe sharply decreased in the wake of the September attacks. The region registered a negative 32 percent decline in outbound air traffic when compared to the same time in 2000. In comparison, the September figures for both total and overseas U.S. outbound travel declined 30 percent. In September of 2001, there were only about 836,000 U.S. citizen air departures to Europe. In 2000, the U.S. citizen air departures to Europe totaled 1.3 million.

October
The double digit declines continued to deepen into October, falling 35 percent when compared to the same time in 2000. From September to October the declines rose by 3 percentage points making it the second largest decline for all of the areas tracked each month. The largest drop in traffic was recorded by the Middle East, which declined 42 percent. In comparison, Europe's decline of 35 percent was deeper than the overseas and grand total declines which registered at 28 percent.

November
November still registered a 28 percent decline but a smaller one than the 35 percent registered in October. The 7-percentage points difference indicates that the U.S. citizen outbound air travel was improving from September and October. However, Europe registered the second largest decline, next to Africa, which declined 39 percent.

December
In December, the overall decline for Europe was 21 percent when compared to 2000. Although December still registered a decline, the monthly trend from September to December indicates a rebounding travel market. However, out of four world regions that registered declines in December, Europe experienced the second highest decline level, surpassed only by the largest decrease in the Middle East at 39 percent. In contrast, a few regions showed increases for U.S. outbound air travel. Central America recorded the highest increase. The region registered a 52 percent increase in air traffic for December 2001. The overall total decline for U.S. outbound travel in December was only 3 percent and 5 percent for total overseas travel.

September - December
In the months of September to December, Europe declined 29 percent. Europe's declines were the second highest when compared to the rest of the world. Only the Middle East had a higher decline of 37 percent. However, when comparing the actual traffic numbers for both regions, Europe lost many more travelers than the Middle East. The European market lost about 882,000 travelers as compared to the Middle East, which lost only 121,000 travelers. The losses are even more visible when comparing Europe's declines to the grand total declines of only 20 percent. In this case, the data shows that the September events were most devastating to the European travel market.

October - December (4th quarter)
The 4th quarter registered a negative 28 percent decline for Europe, one of the highest in the markets tracked. Only the Middle East registered a higher percent decline with 36 percent. The smallest decline was registered in Oceania with 11 percent. Central America registered a 6 percent increase over the same time from the previous year.

ASIA

Calendar Year 2001
Final U.S. citizen air departures to Asia decreased 5 percent in 2001 when compared to 2000. There were 3.8 million U.S. citizen air travelers to Asia in 2001 as compared to 4.0 million in 2000. Asia is the second region that recorded the lowest percentage decline of 2001, Canada was the first region with the lowest decline of 3 percent. In comparison, total U.S. citizen air departure traffic and overseas figures were recorded at a 5 percent decline for the year.

January - August
The total U.S. air departures to Asia from January to August in 2001 were 2.72 million travelers as compared to 2.67 million in 2000. This was a 2 percent increase from 2000. All world regions, with the exception of Middle East, had seen growth in U.S. outbound travel from the January - August time frame. The 2 percent growth rate matched the rate of growth for the total U.S. citizen air departure traffic.

September
With the unexpected tragedies, U.S. departures sharply decreased in all markets (down 30%). The decreases ranged from negative 20 percent in the Central America market, to negative 40 percent in the Oceania market. The Asian market declined 25 percent in September 2001 as compared to the same time in 2000.

October
Immediately following the September attacks the outbound travel declines were in double digits. Asia's declines continued into October falling 21 percent when compared to the same time in 2000. Although the declines continued, the magnitude of the drop between September and October in 2001 was 4 percentage points less for the month. Asia's 21 percent drop was at the midpoint of the declines as compared to the rest of the world.

November
In the second month following the attacks, Asia's declines registered only at 9 percent compared to the same month in the previous year. Asia registered the lowest decline among all of the areas tracked on a monthly basis. Overall, the decline for total U.S. outbound travel in November was 20 percent. Africa showed the largest decline of 39 percent for the month. Asia was the only region that did not register a double-digit decline for the month.

December
In December the decline for Asia was only 5 percent when compared to 2000. Out of four world regions that registered declines in December, Asia revealed the smallest decline. The deepest decline was registered in the Middle East at 39 percent. However, many regions showed increases for U.S. outbound air travel. Central America recorded a 52 percent increase in air traffic for December 2001. Other increases were seen in Oceania, Africa, South America, Central America, and Mexico. The overall total decline for U.S. outbound travel in December was only 3 percent.

September - December
The year-end results were greatly impacted by the attacks when comparing the results of September to December 2001 to 2000. In those months, Asia declined 15 percent. The good news is that once again Asia's declines were a midpoint to all other world regions.

October - December (4th quarter)
The 4th quarter registered a negative 12 percent decline for Asia, one of the lowest in the world markets. Only the Caribbean and Oceania registered a lower percentage with declines of 12 and 11 percent, respectively. The Middle East experienced the deepest decline at 36 percent, followed by Europe with a 28 percent decline.


The information provided in this analysis is from the monthly publication entitled "U.S. International Air Travel Statistics", produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI). Within this report, information is offered on air passenger arrivals and departures figures for more than 90 countries. In addition, breakouts are provided for citizen and non-citizen arrivals and departures traffic for world regions and countries, between U.S. ports and foreign countries, and by flag of country's carriers. The report is available by subscription. To learn more about the passenger air traffic data program, please visit OTTI's web site at: https://travel.trade.gov/research/programs/i92/index.html.


Thank you for your interest in the U.S. citizen outbound air traveler data. We hope this information will prove useful to you. If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see on the OTTI website, or if you have any questions, please send comments and questions to: otti@trade.gov.