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TI News: An information service from the National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO)

September 14, 2015

International Visitor Spending in the United States: July 2015

As fuel prices slide, so, too, do U.S. air carrier fares and thus passenger fare receipts

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced that international visitors spent an estimated $18.1 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month of July, an increase of 1 percent when compared to July 2014. The price of passenger air transportation - declining nearly 10 percent in Q1 2015 - continues to decline as fuel prices fall, ultimately leading to a 13 percent decline in nonresident passenger fare receipts.

“Travel and Tourism remains the number one service export in the U.S.” Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Stefan M. Selig said. “Today’s numbers show that the United States is still a popular destination for international travelers. Even with the reductions in airfare, international visitor spending has increased when compared to July of 2014. This is good news for our economy and for the jobs the tourism industry supports.”

  • Travel Receipts: Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11.2 billion during July, an increase of 3 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. Travel receipts accounted for nearly 62 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during July 2015.

  • Passenger Fare Receipts: Fares received by U.S. carriers from international visitors totaled $3.1 billion for the month, a decrease of nearly 13 percent ($463 million) when compared to July 2014. Falling fuel prices have contributed to declining fares. Passenger fare receipts accounted for 17 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during July.

  • Medical/Education/Short-Term Worker(1): Expenditures for educational and health-related tourism, along with all expenditures by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers, totaled $3.8 billion in July, an increase of more than 9 percent when compared to the same period last year. Medical tourism, education, and short-term worker receipts accounted for 21 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during July 2015.

Year-to-date international visitor spending totaled $127.3 billion for the first seven months of 2015, a decrease of 1 percent when compared to the same period last year. Conversely, U.S. resident spending abroad is up nearly 7 percent during the same period (January through July), having spent $89.4 billion on imported travel and tourism-related goods and services, resulting in a $37.9 billion trade surplus for travel and tourism year to date.

Monthly U.S. Passenger Air Transportation Exports

Annual Revisions

On June 18, 2015 the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released annual revisions of the U.S. international transactions data, of which travel and tourism-related spending are a part; as a result, we have revised annual international visitor spending data for 2012, 2013, and 2014.

In 2014 international visitors spent $220.8 billion (revised) experiencing the United States, an increase of 3 percent when compared to the previous year. These travel and tourism exports accounted for 31 percent of all U.S. services exports and 9 percent of all U.S. exports, goods and services alike.

Unfortunately, the National Travel and Tourism Office is no longer able to report annual travel and tourism export figures (international visitor spending in the United States) by country until October of each year. The National Travel and Tourism Office relies on data provided by BEA (e.g., spending by visitors from China on U.S. flag carriers) to report these country-specific data. Previously, BEA released these preliminary data in March; now, however, BEA will not publish these data until October. As a result, the National Travel and Tourism Office will necessarily alter its reporting schedule accordingly.

(1) In June 2014 the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) completed the most comprehensive restructuring of the U.S. international economic accounts since 1976 in an effort to bring U.S. international accounts into closer conformity with international guidelines. As a result, BEA now uses a broader definition of travel that includes education-related and health-related travel and expenditures on goods and services by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers. To learn more, please visit: https://travel.trade.gov/pdf/restructuring-travel.pdf

The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating international travel and tourism statistics for the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System. For more monthly travel and tourism-related trade data dating back to 1992, please visit the NTTO site at: https://travel.trade.gov/outreachpages/download_data_table/Monthly_Exports_Imports_Balance.xlsx.