U.S. sees drop in overseas arrivals

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WASHINGTON--Overseas arrivals to the U.S. fell 1% in the first half of this year, according to figures from the Commerce Department's Tourism Industries Office. But given the dramatic 13% decline in Asian arrivals, a drop of only 1% overall is "good news," the office said.

The decline in Asian arrivals was nearly offset by growth in Central America (up 26%), South America (5%) and western Europe (4%), the office noted. Also up: the Middle East (8%), eastern Europe (5%) and Africa (15%).

Meanwhile, closer to home, economic troubles and a weak dollar in Canada resulted in a 7% drop in arrivals in the first half, including 12% in June alone. Better news came from south of the border, where Mexico arrivals by air climbed nearly 11% in the first half. Canada and Mexico are not counted as part of the overseas arrivals figures.

Here's a closer look at some of the regions.

  • Asia: Japan, the No. 1 overseas market for the U.S., continues to deteriorate, down 6% in the first half and 7% in the second quarter, including 11% in June alone. South Korea fell a dramatic 59% for the half. However, the office saw a ray of Asian light in the reunified Hong Kong and China numbers, up 8% in the second quarter.
  • Europe: U.K. arrivals, which have been growing at a double-digit rate, kept the streak intact at 12% in the first quarter but slipped to 9% growth in the second. German arrivals continued to decline. France's first quarter was 11% higher, but it fell 1% in the second.
  • Central and South America: Most of the countries finished on the up side, thanks to a strong surge during Easter break. Venezuela and Colombia ended the half with double-digit growth. Brazil continued to decline but more in the first quarter than the second.
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