Despite a 6% drop in fourth-quarter arrivals, the U.S. hosted a record 58 million foreign visitors in 2008, an overall 4% increase, the Commerce Department reported. Canada, the perennial leader, generated 18.9 million visitors, a 7% increase, while arrivals from Mexico declined 7% to 13.8 million, a total that includes both border traffic and travel to the interior.
Overseas arrivals, (excluding Canada and Mexico) rose 6% to 25.3 million. Although several individual countries also generated record numbers, the U.S. Travel Association warned of a continuing lag in the growth of the overseas component.
Even with recent increases, arrivals from overseas have not rebounded to pre-9/11 traffic levels, which peaked at 26 million in 2000. U.S. Travel said that if U.S. overseas arrivals had kept pace with global travel trends, the U.S. would have attracted 58 million more overseas visitors during the past eight years, representing $182 billion in traveler spending.
Source: Travel Weekly