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

February 22, 2013

RECORD YEAR FOR TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES

Travel and Tourism Industry Buoys Record U.S. Export Figures for 2012

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration today released the December 2012 data on international travel and tourism to the United States, which shows that exports in this sector hit a record $168.1 billion in 2012.

Travel and tourism exports represent the largest service-export industry within the United States. In 2012, travel and tourism accounted for 8 percent of all U.S. exports and 27 percent of all service-exports, which themselves hit a record in 2012, reaching $632.3 billion. International travel and tourism also helped contribute to the record surplus the U.S. holds in services exports, which hit $195.3 billion in 2012, and the overall record U.S. export figure of $2.2 trillion.

“International visitors to the United States are an increasing part of our export success story, which not only continues to reach record levels, but support millions of American jobs,” said Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “The Obama Administration is committed to support these positive trends by taking concrete steps to attract and welcome international visitors to the United States, which is boosting local economies from San Diego to San Juan.”

For 2012:

  • Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $128.2 billion in 2012, an increase of more than 10 percent when compared to the previous year.
  • These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel.
  • Fares received by U.S. carriers and U.S. vessel operators from international visitors markedly rose in 2012. When compared to 2011, U.S. passenger fare exports increased appreciably (9 percent) to $39.9 billion for the year.

For December 2012 alone:

  • International visitors spent an estimated $14.3 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within the United States - nearly $1.8 billion more (14 percent) than was spent in December 2011.
  • Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $10.9 billion during December, an increase of more than 14 percent when compared to last year.
  • These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel.
  • Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors increased by nearly 14 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, following an increase of 7 percent in November. U.S carriers have received more than $39.9 billion from international visitors through December 2012, the strongest year-to-date performance on record.

The importance and impact of the travel and tourism industry will continue to grow as Brazil, China, and India see record amounts of newly formed middle class citizens vacationing around the globe. These countries represent more than 40 percent of the world’s population and, by 2016, the number of travelers from Brazil, China, and India is expected to increase by 274 percent, 135 percent, and 50 percent respectively.

The travel and tourism industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increases its share of the international travel market. “The opportunity for dynamic economic growth and job creation in this sector is why President Obama charged the Department of Commerce and the Interior Department to create the National Travel and Tourism Strategy,” Sánchez said.

Released in May 2012, the Strategy is a blueprint for expanding travel to and within the United States, setting the goal of attracting more than 100 million international visitors annually by 2021. These international visitors are projected to spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country. Specific solutions include focusing on increasing non-immigrant visa capacity, expanding the Global Entry Program which allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk air travelers upon arrival in the United States. The Strategy is also an important part of the President’s National Export Initiative, which is a government-wide strategy to promote American exports.

Increasing U.S. travel and tourism will not come at the expense of national security. “The President’s plan for commonsense immigration reform includes a number of proposals to support his commitment to increasing U.S. travel and tourism while maintaining our nation’s security,” Sánchez added. “Specifically, the President’s immigration proposal reforms the Visa Waiver Program to strengthen law enforcement cooperation while facilitating more efficient trade and tourism to the United States, securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry.”