International Arrivals to the United States - First Quarter 2003
2003 First Quarter *International Arrivals

Total international arrivals to the U.S. in 2003 began on a positive note, however, looming war and continued airline tribulations resulted in a decline for first quarter 2003. The 2003 first quarter total international arrivals (includes overseas, Canadian, and Mexican * arrivals) contracted 8 percent registering 7,159,643 arrivals, compared to 7,747,395 arrivals for first quarter 2002. Overseas arrivals also declined 8 percent, to register 3,746,333 arrivals. Canadian arrivals declined by only 1 percent registering 2,779,200 arrivals, and Mexican arrivals declined 27 percent to register 634,110 arrivals.

The U.S. experienced five straight months of positive gains in international arrivals starting in September 2002 through January 2003, which grew 5 percent. However, February arrivals declined by 2 percent as war loomed, and March arrivals stumbled negative 20 percent as the Iraq war began. The year-end arrivals Forecast, reported in May, predicts total international arrivals to increase 1 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

2003 Overseas Arrivals

Overseas arrivals in first quarter 2003 contracted 8 percent to register 3,746,333 arrivals, compared to 4,083,384 arrivals in first quarter 2002. January 2003 overseas arrivals were (up 5%), February arrivals contracted (by 3 percent), and March arrivals dropped drastically by 23 percent. The year-end arrivals Forecast, reported in May, predicts overseas arrivals to be flat in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Western European arrivals only contracted only 2 percent in first quarter 2003, the smallest first quarter decline when compared to the other overseas world regions. Canada was the only other visitor market to contract at a slightly slower rate (down 1%). Arrivals from Western Europe grew in January (up 13%) and February (up 6%), however, the Iraq war stalled travel in March (down 18%). Asian arrivals to the U.S. contracted 7 percent in first quarter 2003, compared to first quarter 2002. Arrivals from Asia grew in January (up 7%), but began to contract in February (down 2%), and dropped sharply in March (down 23%). South American arrivals continued to contract (down 27%) in first quarter 2003, compared to first quarter 2002. Arrivals from South America dropped in January (down 14%), February (down 27%), and March (down 38%). Arrivals from the remaining world regions all registered declines in first quarter arrivals compared to 2002 arrivals: Oceania (down 3%), Eastern Europe (down 5%), Africa (down 6%), Central America (down 14%), Middle East (down 18%), and the Caribbean (down 21%).

Top Markets:

Canada
Canada ranks as the top arrivals market for the United States and in first quarter 2003 accounted for over one third (37%) of total international arrivals. Canadian arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted by only 1 percent to register 2,779,200 arrivals, compared to 2,795,993 arrivals in 2002. Arrivals grew in January (up 5%) and February (up 2%), but faltered in March (down 6%). The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts Canadian arrivals to increase 3 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Mexico
Mexican arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted 27 percent to register 634,110 arrivals, compared to 868,018 arrivals in first quarter 2002. Like most markets January arrivals grew (up 9%), however, February arrivals contracted (down 12%) and in March Mexico registered the largest rate of decline compared to other top markets (down 52%). The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts international arrivals to be flat in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

United Kingdom
The UK held its rank as the top overseas market through first quarter 2003. UK arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted only by 2 percent to register 786,995 arrivals, compared to 805,368 arrivals for first quarter 2002. Arrivals in January from the UK to the U.S. registered double-digit growth (up 12%) and February continued the growth trend (up 7%). However, the Iraq war sunk March arrivals (down 17%).

In early April 2003 the USDOC, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, UK Travel Barometer reported 2003 first quarter bookings were flat (no change), compared to first quarter 2002 bookings. Responses varied with 16 percent of respondents indicating bookings were up 20 percent or more and approximately one in ten (11%) of the respondents indicated bookings increased 10 to 15 percent. Another 16 percent indicated bookings increased 1 to 9 percent for the quarter. However, 41 percent of the respondents were on the other side of the fence, indicating bookings overall to the U.S. decreased 4 to 20 percent for first quarter 2003. The short-term forecast, at the time of the Travel Barometer survey, predicted second quarter 2003 to be flat and third quarter travel to grow modestly. The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts UK arrivals to increase 4 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Japan
Japanese arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted by 6 percent to register 774,747 arrivals – approximately 12,000 fewer arrivals than the United Kingdom. Arrivals in January from Japan to the U.S. grew 8 percent, and February arrivals grew 3 percent, compared to the same months in 2002. However, March arrivals registered a double-digit decline (down 24%). The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts Japanese arrivals to be flat in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Germany
German arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted negative 5 percent to register 218,560 arrivals, compared to 231,055 arrivals for first quarter 2002. Arrivals in January from Germany to the U.S. registered double-digit growth (up 13%), and February continued the growth trend (up 7%). However, similar to the UK, March arrivals dropped sharply (down 22%).

In early April 2003 the USDOC, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, German Travel Barometer reported 2003 first quarter bookings were flat (no change), compared to first quarter 2002 bookings. Responses varied with nearly one fifth (18%) indicating bookings were up 20 percent or more. However, nearly 12 percent of the respondents were on the other side of the fence, indicating bookings overall to the U.S. decreased more than 20 percent. The short-term forecast, at the time of the Travel Barometer survey, predicted travel to the U.S. for second quarter 2003 to be flat and third quarter travel to grow modestly. The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts German arrivals to decrease negative 3 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

France
France was one of only two top markets to register a gain in first quarter 2003. French arrivals in first quarter 2003 grew 3 percent to register 145,888 arrivals, compared to 141,723 arrivals in first quarter 2002. Arrivals from France in January and February registered double-digit growth (up 10% and 13% respectively). The strong growth in the first two months of 2003 outweighed the 11 percent contraction in March arrivals to post an overall positive gain for the first quarter. The year-end arrivals Forecast, reported in May, predicts French arrivals to decrease negative 5 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

South Korea
South Korean arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted by 2 percent to register 140,438 arrivals, compared to 143,941 arrivals in first quarter 2003. January arrivals grew 7 percent marking the fifth straight month of growth. However, arrivals in February weakened contracting 8 percent and March registered a double-digit decline of 10 percent in arrivals, compared to arrivals for the same months in 2002. The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts South Korean arrivals to decrease by 5 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Australia
Australian arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted by 2 percent to register 83,102 arrivals, compared to 84,816 arrivals in first quarter 2002. January arrivals soared upward to register a 16 percent increase, the second fastest rate of growth in arrivals (Italy registered the highest rate of growth among the top overseas markets in January). However, arrivals in February contracted 3 percent and March arrivals plummeted 18 percent, compared to a year ago. The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts Australian arrivals to decrease by 3 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Italy
Italian arrivals for first quarter 2003 grew 5 percent to register 77,560 arrivals – the largest rate of growth for the top ten markets. Arrivals from Italy in January rocketed upward to register a 29 percent increase, compared to January 2002 arrivals. February arrivals grew 6 percent, and like most markets, March arrivals contracted by 15 percent. The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts Italian arrivals to increase 4 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Brazil
Economic hardship continued to shrink arrivals from Brazil through the first quarter. Brazilian arrivals for first quarter 2003 contracted 28 percent to register 76,724 arrivals – the largest rate of contraction for the top overseas visitor markets during the first quarter. Arrivals from Brazil to the U.S. contracted in all three months of the first quarter: January (down 12%), February (down 34%), and March (down 38%).

In April the USDOC, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries Brazil Travel Barometer reported 2003 first quarter bookings, on average, were down 4 to 9 percent compared to first quarter 2002 bookings. The short-term forecast, at the time of the Travel Barometer survey, predicted travel, on average, to the U.S. for second and third quarter 2003 to be about the same, compared to travel demand during the same travel periods in 2002. The year-end arrivals Forecast predicts Brazilian arrivals to decrease 6 percent in 2003, compared to 2002 year-end arrivals.

Top Ports of Entry - Analysis

In addition to the monthly arrivals data in 2003, OTTI will be providing a table that lists the top ports-of-entry for non-resident arrivals each month. The table will provide year-to-date arrivals figures for all overseas markets (which exclude Canada and Mexico). This table is provided to assist these industry understand where the declines or increases are occurring (at lease at the port level) beyond just total arrivals to the country. As you review this table each month, please pay attention to whether or not a port that generates visitors to your destination has growth rates or registers declines at a rate greater than or less than the national average. If you rely upon the ports, which register declines in 2003 that are greater than the national average, this will have an impact on your visitation totals for 2003. The rates of change provided for 2003 for overseas travelers may also be analyzed monthly for over 40 U.S. ports for 30 countries and 10 world regions by purchasing the monthly or growth I-94 reports.

First Quarter 2003 – Top Ports Analysis

For the first quarter of 2003, total overseas arrivals declined by 8 percent. Among the top 15 ports-of-entry for non-resident arrivals to the USA, eight (8) of these ports registered declines equal to or greater than the national average. This may indicate that destinations that rely upon these ports as the source for visitors to their destination may have declines at the destination level greater than the national average. These ports in rank order of total arrivals fourth first quarter of 2003 are: Miami (- 15 %), San Francisco (- 13%), Newark (-8%), Agana Guam (-30%), Atlanta (-13%), Dulles Airport (-15%), Houston (-18%), and Boston (-10%).

In contrast, four of the top 15 ports saw an increase in overseas arrivals for the first quarter. They were: Honolulu (+4%), Chicago (+2%), Orlando (+2%), and Detroit (+8%). Destinations that rely upon these ports for visitors are starting our 2003 with at least growth in arrivals at the port level compared to the declines at the national level.

The above analysis is a synopsis of the world regions and the top markets generating arrivals to the United States. Arrival statistics for the top countries and world regions may be accessed on-line from the monthly section of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) web site at: https://travel.trade.gov/research/monthly/arrivals/index.html

The information provided in the above analysis is from the following OTTI programs and publications:
- Summary of International Travel to the United States, a monthly publication that can be accessed at: https://travel.trade.gov/research/programs/i94/index.html

- Travel Barometer Program (UK, Germany and Brazil): a qualitative survey providing a short-term forecast for travel to the U.S. can be accessed at: https://travel.trade.gov/recovery

- Travel Forecast: a biannual report forecasting year-end arrivals for 2003 through 2006, released in May 2003, can be accessed at: https://travel.trade.gov/cat/f-2000-99-001.html

*Total international arrivals exclude Mexican arrivals that don’t travel beyond 40 kilometers of the U.S. Mexico boarder.