Travel

The Great American Vacation in Three Charts

Where do Americans go? Who visits the U.S.?  What do they do here?

Visitors bike past shops in downtown Tulum, Mexico.
Photographer: Cassi Alexandra/Bloomberg

Visitors bike past shops in downtown Tulum, Mexico.

 

Nearly 70 million Americans traveled abroad last year. Even more people visited the U.S., continuing a trend that began about five years ago amid efforts to reverse a decline in tourism caused by the financial crisis and tighter security. In 2010, Congress created a body to promote tourism in the United States; two years later, the White House followed with an executive order (PDF) aimed at speeding visa approvals.

Where do Americans go? Canada and Mexico, of course. Excluding those two, 30.8 million Americans traveled abroad last year, led by Californians and New Yorkers, according to recent data (including both business and leisure travel) from the Commerce Department's National Travel and Tourism Office.

 

Canadians visit the U.S. more than Americans visit Canada. More than twice as many Americans visited Mexico in 2014 as headed north, those sunny beaches trumping the friendly nation of hockey, poutine, and Justin Bieber. Among overseas destinations, the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic drew the most U.S. travelers, followed by France, Italy, and Germany.

 

 

What do tourists do when they come to America? Everybody shops. But nobody enjoys golf and tennis like South Koreans. Chileans prefer U.S.-style fine dining, and Spanish travelers come for the art galleries and Native American cultural attractions. The outlier: Australians, who apparently don't go in for sleep.