U.S. citizens are traveling abroad at a record pace, putting aside worries about Ebola, downed airliners and armed conflicts.
Some 40.2 million U.S. citizens took an international trip for more than one night through July 2014, up 10 percent from a year ago, the International Trade Administration said in a report this week. Overseas travel is on pace to top the 2007 record.
The data don’t reflect possible fallout from the latest turmoil, such as the beheadings of U.S. citizens by Islamic State terrorists in August and September. Travelers still had to weigh the loss of two Malaysian airliners, with one shot down over the Ukraine, as well as new fighting in the Middle East and the deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak. In June, Doctors Without Borders said the disease was “totally out of control.”
The agency, part of the U.S. Commerce Department, reported increases of 10 percent or more in travel to the Caribbean, Central America and Africa. Visitors to Mexico, the No. 1 destination for U.S. travelers, rose 21 percent to 14.7 million through July.
The numbers suggest an improving U.S. economy and pent-up demand for more exotic holidays is prompting more Americans to break out of the “staycation” mode that saw people take short respites locally since the 2008 financial crisis.
The average annual household income of U.S. citizens traveling abroad is greater than $125,000, according to government data. U.S. median income is $52,250.
United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL:US) reported a 6.4 percent jump in miles flown by paying passengers between the U.S. and Latin America through September, while Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL:US) posted a 20 percent increase.
The number of U.S. citizens traveling abroad hit a record 64 million in 2007 and then declined for four years. The number of travelers heading overseas, not to Mexico and Canada, grew 6.7 percent through July to 18.8 million. In the same period of 2007, that number was 18.5 million.
Separately, the Commerce Department today predicted travel to the U.S. would hit another record this year, rising 5.9 percent to 73.9 million international visitors.
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