“By the Numbers” is a periodic look at data on the travel economy from sources outside of the U.S. Travel Association, examining how the numbers align with U.S. Travel’s own research and analysis. This iteration looks at last week's release of 2018 international inbound travel statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) released international inbound travel statistics for 2018.

Overall, international travel volume to the U.S. increased 3.5% in 2018 to nearly 80 million. This is 1.8 million more visitors than the previous record of 77.8 million in 2015. The 3.5% increase was an improvement from the 0.7% increase in 2017.

Comparing visitation in 2018 to 2017

  • Canadian visitation to the U.S. increased 4.9% in 2018 to 21.2 million. This growth rate was similar to the 4.8% increase in 2017.
  • Mexican visitation to the U.S. increased 3.9% in 2018 to 18.5 million. This growth rate was a significant rebound from the 6.1% decline in 2017.
  • Overseas visitation to the U.S. increased 2.5% in 2018 to 39.9 million. This growth rate was slightly faster than the 2.0% increase in 2017.

How these figures compare with U.S. Travel’s estimates

Today’s release is consistent with the international component of the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index (TTI).  The TTI has proven a strong indicator of international inbound travel. The Index correctly predicted the strong growth in international arrivals in the first half of 2018 as well as the slowdown in the second half—particularly in the final quarter—of the year.