By Ken Hegan for MSN

Americans are pretty pleased with themselves this week (well, even more than usual). A new report says visits to the USA have hit a record high.

The US Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries has released their latest report International Visitation to the United States: A Statistical Summary (2012). As you expect, it’s a great beach read that you can’t put down.

The report reveals a big surge in people streaming into America for play, work, vacations, being a mule, and wild Vegas nights they can never, ever tell anyone about. Overall, visitations grew 7% over 2011. 4 million more people visited the US to reach an all-time high of 67 million international visitors. That’s more than everyone who lived in the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.

The majority of travellers were Americans’ neighbours from Canada (we’re #1!) and Mexico.

American visitors

Everyone who wears a swimsuit through Customs gets a free American flag towel

The rise in tourists shows the impact of the muscular Brand USA marketing push, plus the DiscoverAmerica site where you can read travellers’ blogs about virtually every major destination in America, e.g. Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona.


Ancient Navajo settlement at Canyon de Chelly in Arizona

Other highlights from the report’s colourful graphs:

  • A record number of Canadian non-residents popped down to say hi. 22.7 million of us, which is 6% more than in 2011

Canadians love America so much, we’re telling everyone in the world to meet us there.

  • 2012 saw a record 14.5 million visits from Mexicans, up 8% from 2011
  • Asian visitors jumped 15%
  • South American visitors grew 18%
  • Oceania visitors (Australians, New Zealanders, and other tropical islanders) were up 6%
  • Middle Eastern visits rose 14%
  • Eastern European visitors jumped 8%
  • African visitors went up 14%
  • Overseas arrivals (excluding us and Mexicans) totalled 29.8 million people or 44% of total arrivals to the USA

The biggest decline in visitors? People from the UK, France, Italy and Spain. On the whole, Western European visits dropped 2%. So either they travelled somewhere else or they’re broke and stayed home to weep on their tapas.
Here’s a screen shot from the report that lists the top 25 visitors by country:

Top 25

There’s a drinking game in here somewhere

Download the full report here.

WARNING: it’s a good read but it doesn’t come with photos, illustrations, videos, or comic strips.

— Ken Hegan

Read all Ken’s travel stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan

Photo of the Arizona canyon courtesy