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Foreign Tourists Post First U.S. Travel Surplus in History

February 5, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A record 38.3 million foreigners traveled to the United States last year, contributing to a $450 million travel surplus, the first in U.S. history, the Commerce Department announced Monday.

″For the first time, the U.S. will enjoy a travel surplus of half a billion dollars,″ Undersecretary Rockwell Schnabel tol a briefing.″This means that foreigners spent more money in the United States than U.S. ciitzens spent abroad.″

The department’s U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration said American and foreign travelers spent an identical $8.7 billion in getting to their destinations.

But foreign visitors spent $34.3 billion in the United States, while Americans spent $33.9 billion abroad.

″For 1990, the surplus is projected to be $1.5 billion,″ Don Wynegar, the administration’s research director, said.

The adminstration is forecasting a 6 percent increase to 40.7 million foreign visitors this year and a 7 percent gain to 43.4 million in 1991.

By the year 2000, foreign tourists are expected to total 67 million visitors, spending a projected $89 billion, Schnabel said.

Sixty-four percent of the foreign tourists came from U.S. neighbors - 15.2 million from Canada and 9.3 million from Mexico.

Wynegar said 3 million Japanese visited the United States, an 18 percent increase over 1988, followed by 2.2 million British tourists, a 23 percent increase.

Schnabel said overseas markets with the largest potential for continued growth include Japan, Britain, Australia and Sweden.

″While arrivals from Japan and the United Kingdom seem to be slowing slightly, averaging 9 percent growth per year, growth from Australia and Sweden is expected to average 14 percent annually in 1990 and 1991,″ he said.

Wynegar said 10.4 million tourists from Mexico are expected this year, an 11 percent increase over 1989, while 15.5 million are expected from Canada, a 2 percent increase.

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