US Tourism Office Might Have International Arrival Stats All Wrong

Apr 11, 2018

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The US Department of Commerce announced that there might be some discrepancies in the international arrival data report for 2016 and 2017. The DOC, which oversees the National Travel & Tourism Office, acknowledged that the arrival statistics that previously stated a decrease in international arrivals might be wrong.

The International Trade Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Office made the announcement about a possible undercount on its website, stating that “an increasing number of non-U.S. citizens traveling on visas to the U.S. were being categorized as U.S. residents” in records compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and thus those “travelers were removed from the visitor count of overseas travelers arriving into the United States.”

The government data known as I-94 overseas arrivals record is said to possibly reflect a miscount for the number of international visitors for 2016 and 2017. 

The possible miscount calls into question the so-called “Trump Slump,” a term critics of President Trump use to describe what they see as the negative effect of his anti-foreigner stance on US tourism numbers. The reporting discrepancies have lead some to ask if US tourism is actually on the decline, and if the idea of a “Trump Slump” does not hold true.

There will be a revision and suspension of the arrival reports, and The Department of Commerce will temporarily stop publishing the reports while it corrects its current international visitor records. 

The U.S. Travel Association applauded the efforts of the Department of Commerce and released this statement:

“With international inbound travel being such a critical component of the U.S. trade balance and jobs base, the stakes are very high to have an accurate data picture of overseas visitors to our country,” said Tori Barnes, U.S. Travel’s senior vice president for government relations, in a statement. “We appreciate [Customs and Border Protection] and the Commerce Department’s commitment to getting this right.”


Featured photo credit by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

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