Fewer travelers are visiting the U.S., but Americans are venturing abroad in big numbers

Bicycle Taxi In Paris
Tourists in Paris ride in a bicycle taxi past the Eiffel Tower. In the first 11 months of 2017, the number of Americans traveling internationally grew 9.6% over the same period in 2016.
(Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Travel experts cite a slew of reasons why the number of foreign visitors to the U.S. has been on the decline over the past two years.

But the opposite is happening when it comes to Americans venturing abroad.

In the first 11 months of 2017, the number of U.S. vacationers traveling abroad jumped nearly 10%, with the biggest increase reserved for visitors going to Europe, Mexico and Africa, according to the latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office, an agency of the Department of Commerce.

In raw numbers, that is nearly 80 million U.S. travelers going abroad, with 56% of them visiting Canada and Mexico and 44% traveling overseas, the federal agency reported.


The reason for the increase has mostly to do with finances. Americans feel good about the economy and are ready to spend on international vacations, industry experts say. Plus, air fares have stayed relatively low.

The recession several years ago also created a pent-up demand for travel to Europe, said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Auto Club of Southern California, which offers travel services for its members.

“That was a big driver,” she said.

In contrast, international visitation to the U.S. has been dropping, starting in March 2016 until August 2017, the most recent month for which the travel and tourism office has such data.


Travel industry experts attribute the drop to a strong U.S. dollar, which has made it more expensive for international visitors to travel to the U.S., plus President Trump’s harsh rhetoric against immigrants and his efforts to ban travel from several Muslim majority countries.

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

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