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Americans set international travel records last year despite terrorism, Zika and Ebola

Beachgoers enjoy the water and sand in Acapulco, Mexico. Mexico was the most popular destination in 2015 for Americans traveling abroad.
(Alan Solomon / Chicago Tribune)

Americans traveled abroad in record numbers last year, seemingly undeterred by fears of terrorism, Ebola or Zika.

A total of 74 million U.S. residents traveled internationally in 2015, up 9% from the previous year, marking the fourth straight year of increases, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During 2015, the number of Americans traveling abroad climbed despite the threat of terrorist attacks in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Asia.

The U.S. State Department issued a warning after terrorists in Paris killed 130 people and injured hundreds of others in November.

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In addition, travelers last year faced the spread of the Zika virus in South America and the Caribbean plus the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Still, nearly 33 million Americans traveled overseas — that is, to countries not including Mexico or Canada -- which set a record and was up 7% over 2014, according to the Department of Commerce.

The top five international destinations for U.S. travelers last year were Mexico (28.7 million), Canada (12.5 million), the United Kingdom (2.9 million), the Dominican Republic (2.8 million) and France (2.4 million).

The top five points of departure last year were New York, Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Newark, N.J.

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When asked the purpose of their overseas trips, 53% of American travelers said they went for vacation or holiday, while 27% said they traveled to visit friends or relatives and 10% attributed their trips to business, according to the Department of Commerce. And 3% said they traveled overseas to attend conventions.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

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