USA 2017 3% Fewer Foreign Tourists expected after 4% rise forecast

The USA welcome mat has been removed from our doors and the world’s tourists take notice.

New York City had forecast in 2016 an increase of 400,000 foreign visitors to the city in 2017, marking consecutive years of growth since the great recession of 2009. Most recent forecasts now predict a decline of 300,000 foreign visitors to New York in 2017.

Foreign tourism nationwide mirrors New York City with a forecast change from 4% increase in foreign travelers to the USA in 2017 now predicting a 3% decline. Foreign visitors spend about 4x more per day than US resident travelers in the USA and about one million travel-related jobs are sustained by foreign visitors. This data is from CNN, but I don’t see a link to the data source.

An article from the Chicago Tribune March 6 gives more data on the anticipated decline in foreign visitor arrivals to the USA. Tourism Economics forecast cited in this article projects 4.3 million fewer visitors to the USA in 2017 with $7.4 billion in lost revenue.

  • Los Angeles  800,000 fewer international tourists 2017-2019 and $736 million drop in spend.
  • Miami Airport, second largest number of international visitor arrivals next to New York has seen a 52% decline in flight searches compared to 2016 according to
  • San Francisco expects a 1.8% increase in foreign visitors in 2017 with a large increase in Chinese visitors expected to offset the decline in European tourists.

Six Year Forecast for International Travel to the USA 2016-2021

The National Travel and Tourism Office released its Six Year Forecast for International Travel to the USA 2016-2021 on November 9, 2016. It predicted 2016 would see a 0.9% decline in visitor arrivals compared to the record level 77.5 million international visitors in 2015; the first decline since 2009.

The forecast for 2017 International Travel was for a 2.4% increase with a record 78.6 million foreign visitors to the USA. The six year forecast was for 3.3% growth each year and a prediction for 94.1 million visitors by 2021.

U.S. Travel Association

The U.S. Travel Association has a mission for promotion of foreign tourists to USA. I have attended the annual meeting called IPW since 2011, formerly known as International Pow Wow. This convention is where thousands of tourism agencies and travel providers meet with travel groups like German charter tour groups and Chinese travel organizers to promote places like Florida beach destinations and hotels, our National Parks, California and regional tourism locations like Napa Valley, Palm Springs, San Diego. Destinations like Branson, Missouri and Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge, Tennessee promote themselves to the world as traditional Americana centers of cultural entertainment.

The focus at IPW is on international visitors to the USA. Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and Los Angeles have a huge presence at IPW with press conferences promoting their areas as tourist destinations.

Last year the travel projections were sugary sweet in the anticipation of fattening up the USA travel industry with loads more high-spending foreign visitors. 2017 turns out not to taste so sweet these days with foreign visitors apparently turning away from the USA as a vacation destination. This will have an impact on the travel industry. New York City alone now predicts a $600 million decline in foreign visitor spending for 2017.

Brand USA

U.S. Travel Association and its marketing arm, Brand USA, have booths at travel conferences around the globe to promote the USA as a travel destination. Brand USA spends millions of dollars advertising the USA to potential tourists residing in other countries.

BrandUSA Germany site

Brand USA Germany website

Brand USA Brazil

Brand USA Brazil website

Each year I attend IPW meetings and listen to foreign visitor statistics and growth projections for international arrivals to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago.

Data presented generally shows which countries have strong tourism growth by visitor arrivals with estimated international tourist spending in the USA. The projections have been reaching higher and higher each year…

Until 2017 

Arthur Frommer in a recent article states unprecedented low airfare from USA to Europe is a desperate reaction by the airline industry to fill seats with Americans since Europeans are reducing travel to the USA.

I have already traveled to Europe twice in 2017. My January trip cost $70 one-way San Francisco to Copenhagen on WOW with a $111 return ticket Stockholm to Oakland on Norwegian. Europe is a real bargain right now for Americans, which is why I have booked more travel for the first half of 2017 than I have since 2002-2003 when airfare and international travel plummeted in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq War. Travel between the USA and Europe has even dropped to $300 round trip with many legacy airlines in the alliances.

This should be an interesting year for revised foreign tourism data reports at IPW Washington DC in June 2017.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. Seems like with changes in USD vs. Euro and other currencies that Europe has become a deal for Americans over the past few years. This is slowed by some as concerns over immigration violence and terrorist threats in Europe. Europeans (especially UK) may be traveling less to the USA because of this decline in their currency vs. the USD I assume. I know I would travel less if it cost me 20% more.

  2. Dan of course that’s a factor.

    Ummm also you have a President and his bigoted “advisor” openly bellowing “America First” in Nazi Third reich like tones, banning people based on how they worship (and before anyone says it’s not a Muslim ban, I refer you to “a total utter shutdown on Muslims entering the USA” DJT quote and the religions of the countries on the list) grabbing people’s phones at border to check social media activity, putting a Syrian 5 year old in handcuffs, encouraging racism and violence.

    You know…that kind of despicable, unwelcoming, scary, deeply disturbing behavior.

Comments are closed.