Record Number of Foreign Travelers Visited the U.S. in 2015

Foreign Travelers Mel EvansAP

A record number of foreign travelers visited the United States last year, up three percent over 2014, according to new government data.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) report that a record 77.5 million international visitors traveled to the U.S. in 2015. Travelers from overseas areas, or countries other than Canada and Mexico, also increased 10 percent over 2014 reaching 38.4 million last year.

Visitors from Canada (20,704,701) and Mexico (18,413,649) were the most frequent travelers to the U.S. The ten overseas visitors came from the United Kingdom (4,900,823), Japan (3,758,297), China (2,591,333), Germany (2,271,820), Brazil (2,218,883), South Korea (1,764,871), France (1,752,611), Australia (1,450,113), India (1,125,783), and Italy (1,039,397).

The level of international travel to the U.S. has been steadily on the rise since 2009, when just 55.1 million foreign travelers came to the U.S. In 2010, 60 million foreign travelers visited the U.S., 62.8 million came in 2011, in 2012, 66.7 million visited, in 2013 there were 70 million visitors, and in 2014 there were 75 million visitors.

New York was the most visited state receiving 10.39 million travelers last year. Florida (9.7 million) and California (8.1 million) came in second and third, respectively. Rounding out the top ten most visited states/territories were Nevada, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, Guam and Arizona.

Meanwhile the top cities for international visitors in 2015 were New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston.

Most international travelers (26.03 million) were visiting the U.S. for leisure travel in 2015. The second most cited reason for coming the U.S. was to visit relatives and friends (11.7 million travelers was up 11 percent from 2014). Business travel (5.6 million travelers) and convention travel (3.6 million travelers) were the third and fourth top reasons for visiting.

The data represents the results of the 2015 Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT), which aides in the estimation of the volume and characteristics of foreign visitation to the U.S.

Other takeaways from the report include:

-The average number of states visited in 2015 remained at 1.5 states and the percentage of travelers visiting only one state was 73 percent of visitors, up slightly in 2015. The average number of destinations visited also remained at 2.0 and the percent of travelers visiting only one destination increased slightly to 55 percent.

-The length of stay in the United States averaged 17.8 nights, down from 18.4 nights in 2014. Only three of the top 10 overseas arrivals markets showed increases in the length of visit, i.e. the U.K., Germany and Australia.

-The average travel party size remained at 1.7 persons.

-The usage of a ‘conventional’ tour package (including, at minimum, air and lodging), is estimated at 6.6 million, up three percent from 2014. The share of all travelers using a package declined to 16.1 percent from 17.1 percent in 2014. The use of tour packages declined in the Asian markets. Consequently, the number of independent travelers increased in 2015.

-First time travelers to the United States, as a share of all travelers, increased slightly from 23.8 in 2014 to 24.1 percent in 2015. Repeat travelers consequently decreased slightly as a share, but increased 11 percent on a total visitation basis. ‘Repeat’ visitors characteristically venture beyond the top destinations.

-Transportation usage in United States: inter-city modes (Air/Rail/Bus travel between U.S. cities) held constant as a share of travel. The use of Cruise, Ship/River Boat, for one or more nights, and Ferry, Scenic cruises also held constant. Auto usage, both rental and private/company, increased.


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