US travelers reclaim number one spot

Written by Staff Writer

The USA has always attracted travelers from around the world, and the 2018 edition of World Travel Market (WTM) has once again revealed that it is a top choice destination, with 36 million arrivals from around the world last year.

This year was particularly fruitful for US travelers, with domestic travel figures up by over 12% and international travel up by 4% — all the more impressive as the decline of Europe’s economy since 2016 continues to bite.

This year’s WTM data also showed that destinations in Asia continue to move firmly into top spots for visitors, with Chinese arrivals up over 7% in the USA and 7% in Australia, and Indonesian, Korean and Japanese travelers returning to the USA after a 17% decline in 2017.

Smaller countries like Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga in the Pacific have experienced strong increases in the number of tourists traveling to their shores, as well as European destinations like Spain, Portugal and Italy.

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Italy continues to rank as the top European destination for US travelers, taking 12% of all arrivals, while Britain remains in second place, with 10% of the US market.

Overseas trips to the UK took a step back in 2017 after years of strong growth, reflecting that the UK economy has deteriorated since last year’s Brexit vote. This is especially true for those living or working in international business.

But while UK tourists are starting to keep away, there is evidence that the USA’s long-term gains will be in the long term, with the National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) reporting the lowest level of international arrivals since the global financial crisis.

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This trend seems to be something of a cycle, with the US luxury cruise market affected just as much as the domestic travel market. This is due to a number of factors including declining popularity of cruises in Europe, piracy and rumors that Russia has banned Americans.

On the domestic front, major additions to destinations this year include Miami and Las Vegas, with close to 3 million combined arrivals, and the scenic port of Laguna Madre, California, for visitors to California’s Central Coast.

Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Grenada have also risen in popularity.

As always, WTM 2018 will feature numerous speakers from the travel and tourism industry, showcasing emerging destinations as well as the more traditional hotspots.

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