U.S. travel abroad up 10%; Mexico, Canada and Europe top spots

Outbound travel from the U.S. grew 10% in 2014 from the previous year to a record 68.3 million travelers

Americans traveled abroad in record numbers last year, marking the first double-digit increase in international travel in a decade.

A report from the Department of Commerce said outbound travel from the U.S. grew 10% in 2014 compared with the previous year to a record 68.3 million travelers.

The previous record of outbound travelers was 64 million in 2007, shortly before the national recession dealt a serious blow to the nation's travel industry, according to the National Travel & Tourism Office of the Commerce Department.

Growth in travel abroad has been steady for the last two years, said Ron Erdmann, a spokesman for the tourism office. But he said the growth surged last year.

"We haven't seen double-digit growth since 2004," he said.

The long-term travel trends, however, have not changed much, with federal statistics showing Mexico, Canada and Europe as the most popular destinations in 2014.

"Those have by far been the dominant three" destinations," Erdmann said.

About 34% of U.S. travelers going abroad visited Mexico, with 19% going to Canada and about 18% visiting Europe, according to Commerce Department data. Other popular destinations were the Caribbean, Asia and Central America.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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