“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 the release of 2018 international travel statistics from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released its 2018 international travel statistics.
CBP processed 413.8 million travelers at air, land and sea ports of entry in 2018, with 130.8 million of those travelers arriving at air ports of entry. According to the agency, international travel to the United States—which includes Americans abroad returning home—increased 10.5% overall and 22.2% at airports over the last five years.
How these figures compare with U.S. Travel’s estimates:
U.S. Travel uses the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) international visitation figures, which account only for international visitors—not Americans returning home. Also, CBP’s numbers include day trips, while the NTTO only calculates overnight visits.
Therefore, U.S. Travel’s estimate of 79.6 million international arrivals to the U.S. in 2018 is considerably lower than CBP’s 413.8 million figure. U.S. Travel relies on the Commerce Department’s figures as the association is focused only on travel to and within the United States—not outbound travel.