U.S. to Overseas Custom Report Background

The International Trade Administration (ITA), National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) conducts the Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT).  Data from the survey are used by both the private and public sectors.  The survey responses are an invaluable resource for planning and marketing and can be used to analyze behavior of specific visitor segments.  A uniquely valuable aspect of this survey is the expansion of the results to represent a defined visitor population.

SIAT results are expanded to represent all U.S. travelers to overseas destinations, based on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) APIS/I-92 database.  The APIS data must be submitted for all arriving and departing flights from the United States for all countries.  The departing flight information is the only U.S. government source for estimates of U.S. citizen departures from the country.1

SIAT Questionnaire Content

A copy of the questionnaire can be found by clicking here. It contains thirty-three, multi-part questions, related to trip characteristics and traveler demographics.

The questionnaire is unique in its design to collect information on a traveler's complete trip itinerary, including information on every major destination visited, the length of stay and the type of accommodations utilized.  In addition, information on expenses by category is collected, as well as payment method.  The level of detail collected in these questions is not available elsewhere.

Survey Operations
The questionnaires are designed to be self-administered by the respondents, and are distributed at the international flight departure gate or onboard flights departing from U.S. airports to international destinations.  Questionnaires are available in twelve languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  U.S. residents and non-U.S. residents are surveyed except on flights to or from Canada.  Canadian residents are excluded from the database.

The survey is conducted monthly, specific flights are selected at random, and airlines who participate in-flight receive advance listings of the flights to be surveyed.  These airlines are then sent survey kits, which contain instructions and questionnaires in the appropriate languages.  Onboard personnel distribute the questionnaire after boarding, and collect the completed forms prior to debarkation.  For the majority of particiating carriers, data collection takes place at the airport of international departure, where  DHS-badged survey personnel are responsible for distributing and collecting the completed questionnaires.

Survey Participation

Typically, more than 90 unique airlines participate in the survey during an average calendar year.  The NTTO relies upon the voluntary participation of airlines to collect data on international travelers.  While the data are expanded to represent all U.S. travelers based upon the DHS APIS/I-92 database, no expanded estimates of U.S travelers are possible for destinations for which there were no survey respondents. This means that if no surveys are collected for a particular market, no weighting scheme can correct for this absence.

When reviewing the estimates developed from a subset of the survey data, users need to carefully review the number of respondents for each column heading, as well as the list of participating carriers.  The absence of an airline and lower sample sizes will impact the estimates developed for the origin and destination figures.

1 Monthly U.S. citizen departure figures by region can be found on the NTTO website: http://travel.trade.gov

2022 CIC Research, Inc., San Diego, California