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International tourism to U.S. expected to grow 49% by 2016

May 24, 2011 | 11:23 am

Starlinetours Here's a tip to anyone in the tourism business: Learn to speak Chinese, Portuguese or Korean.

International tourism to the U.S. will grow by 49% by 2016, according to a new forecast by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The projection anticipates the total rate of growth to climb between 6% and 8% each year, in addition to the 9% increase that took place in 2010, according to the federal agency.

The greatest rate of growth in visitors to the U.S. should come from China, Brazil, Australia and Korea, with China leading all countries with a 232% rise by 2016, according to the forecast.

In 2016, the agency expects 2.7 million Chinese tourists to visit the U.S., compared with 802,000 visitors last year.

Canada and Mexico will continue to generate the greatest share of tourists to the U.S. but the rate of growth will be modest compared with the pace expected for China, Brazil, Australia and Korea, according to the forecast.

A chart that outlines the forecasts for the top 20 countries of origin for tourism to the U.S. is available on the Commerce Department website.

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Tourists ride a sightseeing bus through Los Angeles. Credit: Los Angeles Times