In this article we are going to list the 30 most visited cities in the US by foreigners. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 10 most visited cities in the US by foreigners.
Do you remember vacations? Traveling? Going and discovering a new place, a new culture? Meeting new people and learning about how they live and how different it is from you? Taking in a deep breath of the fresh air in the country that feels like nothing anywhere else? Views that you may have imagined a million times but the reality still leaves you dumbfounded and speechless when you realize that it is better than anything you could have ever imagined? Yeah, that all seems to be in the past but for anyone who has been able to travel, those memories will remain no matter what happens. And if you're an American who wants to visit other countries for new experiences, you may want to take a look at the 25 friendliest countries to Americans and the 15 safest places to visit in Mexico that are beautiful and cheap.
Even if you're living under a rock right now, you know that we're living in the midst of a pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen for over a hundred years. 35 million people have been infected, over a million are dead and while many countries across the world thought they had controlled it, especially Europe, the virus has made a massive return, with the number of people infected even crossing the peak that was achieved in March. Now that winter is about to set in, it looks like the virus is here to stay for a while at least and things are going to get worse before they get better.
To combat the coronavirus pandemic, the world saw a lockdown the likes of which have never been seen before. When the Spanish Flu pandemic occurred in 1918, travel by ship was common and motorcars were in their infancy. Travel has been completely redefined in the last century and most of the world is now easily accessible. Tourism is now a major industry in most countries, and even the biggest industry in some of the countries, who are wholly dependent on tourism. As countries went into lockdowns, the industry affected the most by far was the travel industry, as international and even local borders closed. Even today, when over 7 months have passed, many international borders are still closed for most countries, and the closures are increasing as the rate of infections keeps on increasing.
Some of you might be wondering that I'm exaggerating the effects and that the impact on the travel industry may not be as severe. Well, a total of 217 countries have to some extent closed their borders, and airlines have lost over $300 billion, or more than half the revenue made in 2019. Tens of thousands of staff have been laid off, and this will keep on increasing. Initially, some staff was laid off while the rest had to take a lot of pay cuts, but now, as recovery does not seem immediate, layoffs are becoming much more common. Job losses in just the travel industry on a global level could exceed 100 million. Summer vacations were completely destroyed and it's not just the airline industry losing out, the hospitality industry has been crushed as well, as that was the industry first closed down by most governments. Even now, many countries require international visitors to quarantine for two weeks, which is the surest way of ensuring that the industry does not recover quickly.
This has been especially pronounced in the United States, where the tourism industry makes about 3% of the total GDP, and has created over 9 million jobs. The pandemic has infected over 7 million people and over 200,000 deaths. Even though many states are opening up, the rising rates in infections are seeing more and more people afraid of traveling to the country. In April the estimate was that this would be 9 times worse than the previous worst disaster in the US in 9/11. The country is expected to lose out $519 billion which will lead to over $1.2 trillion in lost revenue. Things might be actually even worse since few would have thought the situation would remain so dire 7 months into the pandemic. Of course, when you have a president who advocates against wearing masks, contracts the disease himself, does a drive by exposing his team and security to the virus and then upon his release from hospital, says there is nothing to be afraid of, this is likely to happen. There is a reason that America is the worst affected country by far in the entire world.
Travel and hospitality related stocks are still deep in the red this year. American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ:AAL) lost more than half of its value this year. Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) is down nearly 50% in 2020. Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR) lost a third of its value so far this year. Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE:H) delivered a similar performance. Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG) investors must be feeling very lucky as their 2020 losses are limited to only 15%.
While traveling is opening in some countries, the experience has become so tough that few people will deem it worth the risk. Having to wear a mask across flights which can be over 10 hours long, mandatory negative Covid tests, mandatory quarantine in some places and if you get Covid while touring, you can kiss your vacation goodbye. Airlines are generally not serving food as a precautionary measure and perhaps one of the biggest concern is the sudden decisions on closing borders with a specific country, as happened when the U.K. put France on the quarantine list, resulting in tens of thousands of travelers and holidaymakers rushing to get back in time, wasting their bookings and missing out on the relaxing vacation they intended to get.
So let's go back to 2o19, when you could travel happily and carefree, when people were still visiting the US in droves and could not get enough of its famous cities. Not only does the US have 5.4% of the entire world's travelers, it also has the highest global tourism receipts in the world, at 14.5%. US tourism exports actually are 269% more than the country which places second, which is Spain. Dozens of different nationalities visit the US, with its neighbors being some of the more frequent numbers. Canada tops the list at 20.7 million visitors, out of a total number of nearly 80 million visitors. They are followed by Mexico, with over 18.1 million and the U.K. comes a distant third at 4.8 million people. Despite these numbers, the total number of visitors actually dipped 0.6% as compared to 2018. One can only imagine what the comparison versus 2020 will be like. For our list, we have considered the National Tourism and Travel Office to determine the visitors in both 2019 and 2018. We have attributed 70% weightage to the 2019 rankings as they are the recent ones. So without further ado, let's take a look at the US cities which attracted the most international visitors, starting with number 30:
30. Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 319,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 247,000
Many people flock to this MSA for its high end shopping areas and golf courses, as well as to fish and spot dolphins.
29. Monterey-Salinas, CA MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 287,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 351,000
Bars made in converted factories, gift shops and seafood restaurants dominate this MSA, and have proven quite popular among the flock of tourists, even though they decreased from 2018 to 2019.
28. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 303,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 423,000
Niagara Falls is extremely popular, and probably one of the most visited waterfalls in the world, even though year on year, the number of visitors have decreased a lot.
27. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 315,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 403,000
Perhaps one of the reasons that San Bernardino gets a lot of visitors is because it lies along the iconic Route 66.
26. Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 331,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 331,000
The capital of Colorado is famous for its 19th century buildings from the old West and is a jumping off point for nearby ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains.
25. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, FL MD
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 343,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 323,000
Parasailing is just one of the many activities you can select in Palm Beach and has some amazing museums as well.
24. Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 388,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 315,000
You can visit the only true drive-in in Phoenix, which is also famous for water parks and aquatic centers.
23. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 436,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 455,000
New Orleans is known for its culture and diversity, and is famous among tourists for its food as well.
Pixabay / Public Domain
22. Key West, FL MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 517,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 435,000
Key West is Florida's southernmost point and is famous for its conch style houses.
21. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 590,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 598,000
The center of Silicon Valley has seen over 500,000 visitors annually.
20. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 610,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 499,000
Tampa is famous for its cultural offerings as well as the museums.
19. Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 610,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 638,000
Another city famous for its museums is Dallas, which is one of the reasons why it is one of the most visited cities by foreigners in the US.
18. Philadelphia, PA MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 703,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 638,000
One of the most historic cities, Philadelphia's fame lies in its Museum of Art and the Liberty Bell.
17. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA MD
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 630,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 774,000
If you're visiting Irvine, make sure to visit the Orange C0unty Great Park, featuring a giant helium balloon which you can ride for aerial views of the city.
16. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 727,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 710,000
Atlanta has featured heavily in the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, which are chronicled in the Atlanta History Center.
15. Flagstaff, AZ MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 731,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 742,000
Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon National Monument are a few of the reasons why over 700,000 people visited the city.
14. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA MD
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 844,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 730,000
Seattle is another American city with great history, and is perhaps most famous for the Space Needle.
13. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 828,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 889,000
Nasa's mission control and training facility has attracted hundreds of thousands of people each year.
12. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA MSA
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 881,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 1,133,000
Seaworld and the San Diego Zoo are some of the places you might want to visit in this city.
11. Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL MD
Number of annual visitors in 2019: 982,000
Number of annual visitors in 2018: 969,000
Fort Lauderdale is quite famous for its boating canals and beaches, attracting over 980,000 people in 2019.