WASHINGTON: The number of international visitors to the United States has dropped for the first time since 2009, as did their spending, the US Department of Commerce said Friday.
In 2016, 75.6 million international travelers ventured stateside, a 2% drop from the previous year. Their spending also fell by 1% to US$244.7bil (RM1.05 trillion).
The figures account for people journeying to the US for business, medical, education and leisure reasons.
Travel and tourism however remained the largest services export out of the US, making up 33% of services exports and 11% overall.
According to the department, preliminary data in 2017 has shown a rise in the number of visitors.
Both US visitations and spending from China (US$33bil), Mexico (US$20.2bil), India (US$13.6bil) and South Korea (US$8.6bil) increased, but declined in other top markets.
Canada sends the most travelers to the US, though overall visitors from there have declined more than 6% annually for three straight years.
The US does maintain a surplus of US$84bil when it comes to tourism spending -- meaning foreign tourists in the US spend more than American tourists abroad.
The US tourism industry accounts for 2.7% of GDP and 7.6 million jobs, according to Commerce Department statistics. - AFP