Following a five-month layoff in which it had suspended the publication of overseas arrivals to the U.S., the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) issued revised arrivals* figures for 2016 and 2017, confirming what many in the tour and travel industry knew: last year was one in which most key overseas markets recovered from a lethargic 2016 during which inbound traffic from these markets declined due to a number of factors—not the least of which was an extremely strong U.S. dollar vs. most key global currencies. (The table of the top 20 overseas source markets, showing those country markets which had record years in either 2015 or 2017 illustrates how weak 2016 was.) Some notes on the NTTO data release:
—By a small margin, 2017 produced a record number of overseas visitors (38.9 million), while overall international visitor traffic was 76.9 million, slightly off from the 77.8 million visitors who came to the U.S. in 2015. Last year would have been a record year for overall international arrivals to the U.S. were it not for a decline of more than a million annual visitors from Mexico—the country’s currency, the peso, plummeted in value against the U.S. dollar.
—Brazil staged a strong recovery last year as the nation’s economy—after mired in a record recession for two years—began to expand in the first quarter of 2017 and continued to do so for the rest of the year and into 2018. The three-year period of 2015-2107 has made CVC, already the largest travel company in Brazil, an even stronger presence, as it acquired a half-dozen smaller operators during the same time frame.
—Arrivals from South Korea to the United States increased by nearly a third from 2015 to 2017, propelling it to the Number 4 position among the Top 20 overseas source markets for inbound tourism to the United States.