International travel to US drops for first time since 2009
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
AFP photoThe number of international visitors to the United States has dropped for the first time since 2009, as did their spending, the U.S. Department of Commerce said on Aug. 11.
In 2016, 75.6 million international travelers ventured stateside, a two percent drop from the previous year. Their spending also fell by one percent to $244.7 billion.
The figures account for people journeying to the U.S. for business, medical, education and leisure reasons.
Travel and tourism however remained the largest services export out of the US, making up 33 percent of services exports and 11 percent overall.
According to the department, preliminary data in 2017 has shown a rise in the number of visitors.
Both U.S. visitations and spending from China ($33 billion), Mexico ($20.2 billion), India ($13.6 billion) and South Korea ($8.6 billion) increased, but declined in other top markets.
Canada sends the most travelers to the U.S., though overall visitors from there have declined more than six percent annually for three straight years.
The U.S. does maintain a surplus of $84 billion when it comes to tourism spending -- meaning foreign tourists in the U.S. spend more than American tourists abroad.
The U.S. tourism industry accounts for 2.7 percent of GDP and 7.6 million jobs, according to Commerce Department statistics.