Right now, the United States is on the rebound from a long and painful downturn, and it’s almost paying for it through a sharp increase in visitors from countries that were once hostile destinations for American tourists.
Over the last five years, the percentage of U.S. tourists returning to Turkey, China, Japan, and South Korea has skyrocketed, according to a new report from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO).
Here’s the breakdown by each country:
2015 2016 2017 % Change in US Visitor Arrivals to Turkey 34% 37% 23% 54% China 55% 40% 15% 59% Japan 19% 11% 14% 73% South Korea 58% 22% 17% 66% United States 18% 35% 43% 57%
The surge comes as U.S. visitor arrivals to the entire international sector grew 7 percent last year, the highest annual growth rate in nearly 20 years.
That’s welcome news for U.S. businesses, which are counting on expanding overseas to make up for declines in domestic travel, tourism, and the spending by Americans on hotel stays, eating out, entertainment, and spending money elsewhere.
It’s also good news for the U.S. economy, because some of those countries account for a substantial portion of the overall international travel to the United States.
For example, U.S. outbound trips to South Korea rose 46 percent from 2015 to 2017, the study found. That economic boost to South Korea made a noticeable difference for the country, which suffered a sharp economic slowdown after the 2008 financial crisis.
“While there is still strong ongoing demand from all visa stream countries, those traveling to South Korea in particular are likely seeing the benefits of travel to the U.S. tourism industry,” the NTTO said in a statement.
China had the most dramatic increase of U.S. tourist visits. Visits grew by 78 percent.
The timing is particularly helpful for California, which saw the most visitors from South Korea.
South Korea remains the third-largest market of U.S. tourists behind Mexico and Canada. Though Japan’s tourism to the United States has dwindled in recent years, Japan still hosted more than 900,000 visitors in 2017.