China, Saudi Arabia lead future U.S. tourism growth

The origin of future U.S. tourists is set to shift dramatically.

The United States is expecting to see 69.6 million international visitors this year, growth of four percent from 2012. And that's the kind of growth the tourism industry can expect from international visitors over the next few years, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. Between 2013 and 2018 the U.S. will see annual growth between 3.7 percent and 4.2 percent, leading to 84.6 million international visitors in 2018. But where those tourists come from is set to shift dramatically.

Of the top 40 countries visiting the U.S., here are the ones with the top growth rates: China (229 percent), Saudi Arabia (191 percent), Russian Federation (79 percent), Brazil (66 percent), Argentina (65 percent), and Columbia (54 percent).

Skift makes a good point:

One possible lesson here: There has been so much talk about hotels learning the customs of the Chinese to accommodate the influx of Chinese visitors. Perhaps hotels should also take a refresher course in the likes and dislikes of Saudis, Russians, Brazilians, Argentinians, and Colombians, as well, because they will be arriving, too.

Still, the U.S. can't ignore its neighbors. Forty-two percent of the total visitor growth by 2018 will come from North America -- 30 percent from Canada and 12 percent from Mexico. "In fact, the expected growth from Canada is larger than the expected total visitor volume for any other country by 2018, except Mexico," the U.S. Commerce Department said.

Get a deeper look a individual regions here.

Photo: Flickr/onesevenone

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