International travel by U.S. citizens jumped 6% in the first two months… (Michael Robinson Chavez…)
Americans are dusting off their passports and seeing the world in big numbers.
In the first two months of 2012, 8.1 million U.S. citizens traveled abroad, a 6% increase over the same period in 2011, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries.
Europe remains a popular destination for Americans, with travel numbers up 9% in the first two months of the year. But the biggest increases in foreign travel were to Central America (up 25%), the Middle East (up 19%) and the Caribbean (up 14%).
The only region of the world that Americans visited less this year is Africa, with 5% fewer U.S. travelers in January and February, compared with the same period in 2011, according to the federal agency data.
Mexico remains the most popular foreign destination, with 3.3 million U.S. visitors in the first two months of the year, nearly the same total for the two-month period in 2011, according to the agency.
But even bigger numbers are expected in the summer, the busiest season for international travel. Nearly 19 million U.S. citizens traveled abroad in June, July and August of 2011, according to the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries.
Japan's tourism industry expected to fully recover in 2012
Tourism spending in U.S. surged 8.1% last year to $1.2 trillion
Hawaii sees a bigger wave of tourists