U.S. tourism up despite international recession

The following chart shows, with red highlights, the total number of US tourists traveling to each country from January through October this year and the corresponding number for the same period last year. The…

U.S. tourism up despite international recession

The following chart shows, with red highlights, the total number of US tourists traveling to each country from January through October this year and the corresponding number for the same period last year.

The number of US tourists from January through October jumped by 1 percent over last year, despite the worldwide recession, an increase that authorities attribute to policies aimed at boosting tourism.

Overall, tourist arrivals abroad grew by 3 percent from January through October last year to this year.

Officials say despite some challenges, the US is seeing the best year for tourism since the 2000s, with travelers from a variety of nationalities booking travel in the United States.

“Our goal is to encourage our citizens and citizens of other countries to come here,” said Joann Barlow, director of the US Embassy in Canberra, Australia.

Barlow says the Embassy’s initiative to increase awareness of the benefits of visiting the United States — and the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ “We Love Visas” campaign — are some of the reasons for this year’s gains.

Chris Melmed, deputy assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, notes that the visa process has become more streamlined, which has led to more Americans applying for work and tourist visas.

He said the rise in visits this year, especially from Australia, China and Japan, is also tied to efforts to promote the United States as a travel destination.

Efforts to “bridge the cultural divide” between Americans and people from other countries have helped raise Americans’ awareness of the cultural opportunities abroad, he said.

Barlow says the United States is also aggressively courting the travel trade and encouraging hotels, cruise lines and tour operators to bring more Americans to the country.

Some 2.2 million Americans traveled abroad in 2013, an increase of 5 percent over the previous year, according to the Department of Commerce. (The Bureau of Economic Analysis puts it at 2.5 million.) And Melmed says, this number is expected to increase again this year.

Melmed says the Japanese, Chinese and Australians accounted for the largest jump in overseas tourism this year.

VisitUSA.gov, the US department of tourism’s official website, offers a variety of cultural itineraries that range from afternoon drives with a tour guide in Central California to gourmet wine country trips in Oregon.

Published in the Washington Post

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