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World Tourism Day: 27 September 2006

The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, the national tourism office, joins the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in celebration of the twenty-sixth anniversary of World Tourism Day!

“The main purpose of World Tourism Day,” according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), “is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, and political and economic values.”

Travel and Tourism Supports America

Commencing in 1980, World Tourism Day serves as a reminder of the growing and vital contribution of travel and tourism to today’s global economy. In the United States alone, the U.S. travel and tourism industry accounts for 2.6% of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The industry contributes more to the U.S. economy than the insurance industry or public utilities; the industry contributes more than twice the value-added of agriculture, the automotive industry, or the oil and gas industry.

In 1980 just over 22 million international visitors traveled to the United States, spending just over $13 billion on travel and tourism-related goods and services (exports). Twenty-five years later, however, exports have since grown to nearly $103 billion a year, accounting for 27% of all service exports and 8% of all U.S exports. Moreover, the industry generated a $7.4 billion surplus in 2005, compared to the $825 million deficit in 1980, marking the seventeenth consecutive year in which travel and tourism exports exceeded imports.

Travel and Tourism Employs America

As one of America’s largest employers, travel and tourism industries are profoundly important to the U.S. economy. One out of every sixteen Americans (8.2 million) is employed by travel and tourism-related businesses, ninety-four percent of which are classified as small businesses. In fact, more people are employed by travel and tourism-related industries than are employed in the construction industry, the business and financial industries, agriculture, education, and healthcare.

Travel and Tourism Works For America

The United States travel and tourism industries are among the most competitive in the world. The United States leads the world in international travel and tourism exports and ranks third in its share of global visitation behind France and Spain, respectively. And though more people annually visit France and Spain than visit the United States, the U.S. travel and tourism industries generated 65% more revenue than Spain and 83% more revenue than France, a clear indication of our ability to compete in the global marketplace for long-haul travelers who traditionally spend more money than short-haul travelers.

The importance of travel and tourism cannot be overstated. Travel and tourism generates billions of dollars of federal, state, and local taxes—helping to support local communities, small businesses, schools, infrastructure, banks, farms, museums, shopping malls, and family-owned restaurants, to name a few.

So please join all of us in the national tourism office today in celebrating the economic value and community pride that travel and tourism bring to America!


U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
14th & Constitution Avenue NW, Room 1003
Washington, D.C. 20230
Phone:(202) 482-0140
Fax: (202) 482-2887
Email: Otti@trade.gov

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