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TI News: An information service from Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI)

April 21, 2009


International visitors spent a record-breaking $142.1 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in 2008, according to preliminary statistics released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The total represented an increase of more than 16 percent from the previous record set in 2007.

  • Travel Receipts: Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $110.5 billion for the year, an increase of 14 percent over 2007. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel.

  • Passenger Fare Receipts: Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors increased nearly 24 percent over 2007 receipts to $31.6 billion for the year.

U.S. travel and tourism exports during the opening months of 2008 were strong enough to offset a dramatic downturn in the closing months, a decline of nearly 10 percent in the fourth quarter alone. However, preliminary 2009 data are markedly below 2008, suggesting a significant downturn is possible for this year.


  • Travel and tourism exports accounted for eight percent of all U.S. exports and 26% of services exports, positioning travel and tourism as the United States’ single largest services export.

  • The growth of U.S. travel and tourism exports outpaced the growth of imports by more than 2:1 (16.2% and 7.4%, respectively).

  • The travel and tourism trade surplus accounts for a little more than 21% of the total U.S. services sector surplus.

  • In dollar terms, the strongest gains in international visitor spending came from the United Kingdom (up $2.5 billion), Canada (up $2.5 billion), Germany (up $1.3 billion), France (up $1.2 billion), and Italy (up $1.0 billion).

  • In percentage terms, U.S. travel and tourism-related exports showed the strongest growth for Italy (up 38%), France (up 38%), Argentina (up 32%), Netherlands (up 32%), and China (up 31%).

  • Of all countries and regions reported in 2008, Argentina, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, and Taiwan were the only countries that failed to produce record levels of visitor spending in the United States.

  • The top five international markets for U.S. travel and tourism exports include Canada ($18.7 billion), United Kingdom ($17.5 billion), Japan ($15.1 billion), and Germany ($6.5 billion).

U.S. Travel and Tourism Exports (Receipts)

To view the preliminary 2008 U.S. travel and tourism exports, imports, and balance of trade data, please visit:

The U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating international travel and tourism statistics for the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System. For more information relating to OTTI programs, please visit: http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/research/index.html