The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) said it has
detected that "a meaningful" number of non-U.S. citizens traveling on
visas to the United States were being categorized as U.S. residents, resulting
in a probable undercount for 2017.
As a result, the agency has suspended publication of its
arrival numbers as of March 7, 2018, until the records are "properly
identified, categorized and counted."
According to the NTTO, a division of the International Trade
Administration, it identified "significant and increasing anomalies
affecting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) I-94 visitor arrivals data,"
and that it was working with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and DHS to
resolve the issues.
The decision comes after NTTO's numbers indicate two years
of declining inbound tourism, with data showing the U.S. share of global travel
share falling from 13.9% to 11.9% from 2015-2017, even as global travel volume
The U.S. Travel Association, a founding member of the Visit
U.S. Coalition, formed this year to try and reverse the declining inbound
visitor trend, commended the move.
"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
senior vice president for government relations Tori Barnes in a statement.
However, Barnes added that even if the official data reveals
stronger inbound arrival numbers for 2017 than previously reported, "the
fact will remain that while international travel is spiking globally, the U.S.
is losing share of that growing market to our competitors around the world."