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International travel to the U.S. expected to boom

October 28, 2011 | 11:43 am


If you live near a tourist attraction in the U.S., you might want to practice your Mandarin and Portuguese.

International travel to the U.S. is expected to grow by 5% to 6% each year over the next five years, with the greatest rate of growth coming from China and Brazil, according to a new forecast by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The latest numbers are a revision of a May forecast that said visitation numbers should grow by 6% to 8% annually over the next five years. Department of Commerce officials said they lowered their prediction slightly based on visitation numbers over the last few months.

Still, the projected increase is good news for the U.S. economy, as foreign travelers spend far more per visit than domestic tourists. The U.S. Department of Commerce projects a record 64 million international travelers to spend $152 billion during their stays in 2011, an increase of 13% from 2010.

“More than 1 million Americans owe their jobs to a strong travel and tourism sector," said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. "This record-breaking forecasted growth in travel exports will help put more Americans to work.”

Over the next five years, the greatest number of visitors will continue to be from Canada and Mexico, according to the forecast. But tourism is expected to grow the fastest from China (274%), Brazil (135%) and Australia (94%), the forecast said.


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-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Planes from foreign airlines line up at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times