Orlando Crowned Largest Travel & Tourism City in America for 2022

Orlando was the largest U.S. travel and tourism city destination in 2022 with an economic contribution of over $31 billion, representing 20 percent of the city’s total GDP and recovering above 2019 levels by $2.7 billion—that’s according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The “Cities Economic Impact Report,” sponsored by Visa and researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analyzed key travel and tourism metrics across 82 cities around the world, including contribution to GDP, employment and traveler spend. The report studied the sector’s impact in Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Honolulu.

Las Vegas followed Orlando as the second largest travel and tourism market in the U.S. with a direct GDP contribution of $23 billion last year, surpassing the 2019 baseline by 5.3 percent. Miami made the top city destinations list with a “heroic” GDP comeback last year of $11.1 billion that exceeded pre-pandemic contributions by 5 percent despite a 56 percent drop in economic contribution from the sector in 2020.

New York City and Los Angeles also landed in the top U.S. rankings for 2022 with travel and tourism GDPs valued at $21.1 billion and $11 billion, respectively, showing strong signs of closing the gap to 2019 levels.

Domestic Travelers Dominate Visitor Spending

In 2019, domestic travelers made up an 84.6 percent share of travel and tourism spending in the U.S.; that number increased to more than 95 percent in 2021. Travel hubs like Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas continued to benefit from strong domestic spending last year to surpass 2019 marks by 19 percent on average.

In Washington D.C., domestic visitors provided $5.27 billion to the local economy in 2022, 85 percent of pre-pandemic revenue. Honolulu and San Francisco were not far behind with spending reaching $4.7 billion and $3.41 billion, respectively.

Despite a strong domestic traveler market, pressure created by the slower-than-expected international traveler spending return in the U.S. continued to drive a performance gap in the overall economic recovery of many city destinations last year. The combined international visitor spend across the nine U.S. cities analyzed was 35 percent below 2019 levels.

Orlando was the only major city destination to maintain its industry edge with international visitors, surpassing 2019 spending by almost 20 percent in 2022.

Positive Signs for Travel and Tourism Employment

New York City’s direct contribution of travel and tourism to jobs grew by almost 32 percent between 2020 and 2022, representing an increase of more than 59,200 filled positions. Las Vegas displayed equally impressive employment gains year-over-year, climbing out of a record low of 163,800 jobs in 2020 to round out 2022 with more than 206,000 industry positions.

While employment across the sector in major city destinations continues to rise after the loss of thousands of jobs in the industry throughout the country in 2020, many top markets are still struggling to meet or exceed 2019 job levels despite positive macro-GDP growth. In 2022, Chicago was the only major city destination with direct contribution of travel and tourism jobs outstripping 2019 employment levels, reaching 178,200 jobs last year (a more than 20,000 increase from 2019).

The sector overcame significant long-haul hurdles and, according to WTTC, is poised to emerge even stronger going into 2023 as a critical driver for economic prosperity. By fostering private and public sector collaboration to reintegrate the workforce and attract new talent that meets consumer demand while encouraging open borders, the industry can continue to meet and exceed record economic development.

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