Annual international visitation to the U.S. began to decline in 2015 — and has yet to stop that trajectory. Concurrently, Americans are traveling less frequently and are returning to attractions less and less, possibly often in search of something new and welcoming.

The results of PGAV Destinations’ fourth annual “Voice of the Visitor: Outlook on the Attractions Industry,which tracks Americans' travel behavior and forecasts future plans, revealed a dramatic shift in the demographics of attraction visitors, and a deep desire to visit places that make them feel welcome and relaxed.

In the first ever report of its kind, “Welcome! 2019 Profile of International Visitors to America”revealed how travelers from Canada, Mexico, China, the United Kingdom, and Japanplan their trips to America, where they want to visit and what motivates them to do so, and why many have considered a visit to the States but are now holding off until later, possibly for political reasons.

Of the panelists, 68 percent had visited the United States before; but with the exception of Canada, in the other four countries it was noted that more than a third of those populations have never visited the U.S., but are strongly considering it.

Over 85 percent of international guests noted their key priority when visiting America is finding a safe and welcoming place that has a variety of activities and attractions, visiting more than two towns on average with each visit.

"Over the last several years, from the US Council of Mayors to the American Alliance of Museums to the Southeast Tourism Society and beyond, we've heard impassioned requests for insights into what international visitors think and what they're doing when they enter The Melting Pot; and to date, we couldn't find a precedent," said PGAV Principal and Chair, Mike Konzen.

"These visitors represent an immense contribution to our economy and share of the tourism industry — and in turn represent America when they return home through their stories and photographs — and it's imperative we strive to better understand — and welcome — these guests."

Top 5 Motivators for International Travelers

  • 42%: Shopping
  • 27%: Theme Parks
  • 18%: Historic Landmarks
  • 10%: Museums
  • 10%: Sightseeing Tours

Visting Mickey has remained very popular among international visitors to the U.S.

Top 10 Places Likely to Inspire a Visit to America

  • 36%: Walt Disney World
  • 26%: Disneyland
  • 24%: The Grand Canyon
  • 21%: Statue of Liberty
  • 21%: New York City
  • 20%: Niagara Falls
  • 19%: Las Vegas
  • 19%: Universal Studios
  • 16%: Hollywood
  • 14%: The Northern Lights

When Americans travel, trends suggest that they are seeking more peaceful time with friends and family to relax. Compared to five years ago, Americans say they are "relaxing and chilling out" 27 percent more, playing video games 10 percent less, spending time outdoors 16 percent more, and hanging out with friends 5 percent less.

With more options for entertainment, consumers' tolerance for bad service and low-fidelity experiences continue to decline, fueling dissatisfaction with the staff and offerings at many attractions.

Top 10 Attraction Types Visited in 2018

  • 38%: Historic Landmarks
  • 33%: Zoos/Animal Attractions
  • 30%: Theaters
  • 30%: Theme Parks
  • 28%: History Museums
  • 27%: National/State Parks
  • 24%: Aquariums
  • 22%: Family Entertainment Centers
  • 21%: Art Museums
  • 21%: Sightseeing Tours

Top 5 Most Important Factors for American Tourists

  • 79%: It's a good value for the money
  • 78%: It's a clean place to visit
  • 71%: It has friendly staff members
  • 70%: It provides a safe and wholesome environment
  • 69%: It's a diverse experience with a lot of different things to see and do