WASHINGTON -- International arrivals to the U.S. dropped by 2.1%
during the first quarter of this year, compared with the first
quarter of 1997, fueled by double-digit drops in arrivals from
Canada and Asia, according to the Commerce Department's Tourism
Canada arrivals, which accounts for about a third of all
international arrivals, fell 10% in the first quarter, including a
16% drop in March.
Japan, the largest source of overseas arrivals to the U.S.,
slipped 4%. Overall Asian arrivals fell 12%; South Korea arrivals
plummeted 62%, while China and Hong Kong fell 14%.
"The indication right now, without question, is [arrivals are]
going to be a little weaker than we anticipated," said Helen
Morano, the officer's director of tourism development.
Asia's downturn had been predicted, but the biggest concern now
is the potential "trickle-down" effect on Latin America from
Russia's economic turmoil, she said.
But Morano emphasized that industry officials need to consider
the long-term when deciding where to invest their resources, and
she added they may want to pay particular attention to the office's
revised forecast in late October.
Even amid the first-quarter decline, there were some bright
Western Europe arrivals were up nearly 5%, with strong gains
from the Netherlands (up 31%), the U.K. (12%) and France (11%).
Italy's increase (7%) was stronger than usual.
Mexico arrivals via land boomed, up nearly 70%.
Regions showing good growth included Africa (11%), Central
America (9%) and Eastern Europe (6%).
Those bright spots aside, the Tourism Industries Office isn't
expecting any dramatic turnaround in the second quarter, based on
South Korea will do a little better, but Japan will match its
first-quarter decline, officials said. The figures also are
expected to show continued downturns from Canada, Germany and
The best news should continue to come from the U.K., the
second-biggest source of overseas arrivals, which Morano said
continues to produce double-digit growth.