With the year not yet out, the top 20 international source markets for inbound US tourism is seeing big changes in 2014. The National Travel and Tourism Office has published their semi-annual “Forecast of International Travel to the United States,” and both Russia and Venezuela are dropping like flies, while Japan shows no growth.
In a recent analysis of that forecast, North American Journeys’ subscription-only “The Inbound Report” indicates that the reasons behind Russia’s fall are threefold: 1) economic sanctions following on from the Ukraine issues and a mid-July disaster of a Russian-supplied missile fired at Air Malaysia flight 17, resulting in 298 lives lost; 2) a substantial drop in the price of oil, reducing cash flow into Russia; 3) a 25 percent drop in the currency against the US dollar year-over-year. In 2013, Russia was pegged at number 22 on a list of top overseas markets, falling in-between Ireland and Israel, with 335,279 visitors.
This summer’s collapse of oil prices has affected tourism from this Latin American source, formerly ranked number 11 with 788,000 arrivals in 2013. Overtaken by Colombia (+72 percent), Argentina (+22 percent) and Brazil (+43 percent), Venezuela arrivals are projected to suffer a 32 percent drop over the next five years. Due to financial squeeze on the bolivar, with economists projecting that inflation will top 110 percent by the close of 2015, airlines are owed money, have pulled Caracas flights as well as closing access to their websites.
On the growth side, China is poised to become America’s number one overseas source market by 2019. China moves up from number five in 2013 to number three in 2014 and overtakes the U.K., Japan, Brazil, and Germany with projected growth of 172 percent to 4.9 million in five years’ time, well above the 31 percent forecast for all overseas markets.