Without much notice, the National Office of Travel and Tourism (NTTO) last week released completed 2017 figures for overseas visitor traffic to the states and territories of the U.S., as well as the top 100 source markets comprised of the country’s major cities. In the wake of shutdown in the release of data on international visitors to America caused by a snafu in the way other federal agencies tallied the data on visitors, NTTO had to suspend what had been its usual practice of announcing the release of its data replete with substantive commentary. Now, sharply affected by a reduction in NTTO staff numbers, the agency’s postings are given little notice.
In any event, the information for both U.S. states and its most visited cities show that the traditional gateway favorites for overseas visitors to the USA remain the same, with not much change in market share among the top states and cities, suggesting once again that DMOs will have to be creative in the way they tap into the visitor traffic that feeds into major cities and goes “beyond the gateways.” In the table below, covering U.S. states and territories, one sees that only 14 states have an overall market share of more than two percent, with roughly one out of every four overseas travelers visiting New York or Florida, and one out of every five choosing to visit California.
Not Surprisingly, NYC is Tops: The data regarding the top cities are a little fuzzy, as they take into account the U.S. government’s numbers on Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSAs). However, there aren’t any real surprises if one filters out the second- and third-tier cities that are included in the data. Statistically speaking, the only real head-scratcher in the table below is the position of Flagstaff, Arizona in the top 20 cities. However, Flagstaff—it is 291st largest SMSA and has a population of just 72,000—is also the closest city of any consequence (about 80 miles away) close the nearby Grand Canyon, which is an enormously popular destination/attraction for international visitors to the United States.
In compiling the table below, INBOUND has limited the cities included to only those with at least a one percent market share.