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U.S. Sets New Records for Travel Abroad in 2004

August 8, 2005

U.S. Sets New Records for Travel Abroad in 2004
August 8, 2005 – According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, outbound travel grew by 10 percent in 2004 in the United States compared to that of 2003. This is the largest number of U.S. outbound travelers ever to go abroad and the first double-digit growth in U.S. outbound travel since 1995. It also is the first growth in outbound travel since 2000. In 2004, 61.8 million U.S. travelers went abroad, surpassing the 2000 record of 61.3 million.

Spending by U.S. travelers going abroad also set a new record in 2004 at $89.3 billion, up 14 percent compared to 2003. The top five countries for U.S. spending were Mexico, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Italy.

Mexico was the top international destination for U.S. travelers in 2004 with 19.4 million travelers, up 10 percent compared to 2003. Canada continues to be the number two destination and increased six percent from 2003.

Last year, U.S. travel to overseas markets increased by almost 12 percent compared to 2003. A record 27.4 million travelers visited overseas countries last year. The top five overseas markets visited by U.S. travelers in 2004 were the United Kingdom, France, Italy, China (combined total for the PRC and Hong Kong), and Germany. Destinations that experienced the highest growth in visitation in 2004 were China, up 72 percent, the Philippines, up 63 percent, India, up 51 percent, Greece, up 49 percent, Colombia, up 38 percent and Ireland, up 31 percent.

The U.S. Department of Commerce also released a profile of the U.S. travelers who visited overseas destinations (excluding Canada and Mexico). The profile provides key information on the travel patterns, traveler characteristics and spending by U.S. travelers going abroad.

The top cities of origin for U.S. travel to overseas destinations in 2004 were: New York City; Nassau, NY; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Washington, DC; and Miami, FL.

  • The top ports of departures for U.S. citizens were New York (JFK), Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Newark.


  • Advance trip decision time increased from an average of 80 to 86 days and airline reservation times moved up from 49 to 55 days.


  • The Internet continues to grow in importance as a source of information and for booking international airline reservations, although it still rates second to travel agents.


  • Pre-paid packages registered a slight decline from 13 percent to 12 percent of overseas travelers in 2004.


  • The main purpose of the overseas trip was leisure/recreation/holiday for 38 percent of the travelers, down slightly from 39 percent. Visiting friends and relatives was the second highest main purpose of trip at 33 percent. Business travel comprised 22 percent of outbound travel.


  • The average length of trip increased from 15.9 nights spent outside the USA to 16.2 nights in 2004.


  • Eleven percent of travelers were on their first international trip, up from nine percent, and the average number of trips taken by U.S. travelers going overseas in the last 12 months was 2.8. In 2003, it was 2.9.


  • Top activities for U.S. travelers included: dining in restaurants, shopping, visiting historical places, visiting small towns and villages, and sightseeing in cities.


  • Average international airfare was $1,405, up 5 percent from $1,335, and the average trip expenditure per visitor outside the U.S. was $1,317, up nine percent from $1,206 in 2003.


  • More males traveled abroad than females. The average ages of males and females were 46 and 43 years old, respectively.


  • Average household income was $110,100, down two percent from $112,100 in 2003. For more information, visit
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