Figures showing a decline in UK visitors to the US are likely to have been overstated, a government official has confirmed.
The US International Trade Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Office announced last month that it was suspending the release of data on international arrivals after it uncovered a technical issue which meant a “significant number” of inbound travellers had been incorrectly logged as US citizens.
Speaking at the IPW conference in Denver, a representative of the US Department of Commerce said the issue related to new automated arrivals kiosks, with most individuals who were incorrectly logged travelling on visas from China, India and Brazil.
However, they also confirmed that the issue could affect some visitors from countries including the UK, if travellers were using visas rather than an Esta under the visa waiver programme.
Official NTTO figures for the first nine months of 2017 showed a decline in overseas visits to the US, with UK visitor numbers down 5.6% to 3.629 million.
Many observers pointed to a ‘Trump slump’ triggered in part by a response to the president’s policies and controversial travel ban on visitors from seven countries.
However, figures obtained from other sources including Apis data failed to match up with the NTTO’s reports, with many even suggesting an overall increase.
The NTTO is now reassessing its data, and is ‘hopeful’ that it will be able to provide revised and accurate figures by the end of the year for 2016 and 2017, in addition to early 2018 numbers.
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