Travel and Tourism Spending Increased in 2012

airlineThere is good economic news for the travel industry. Real spending on travel and tourism turned up in the fourth quarter of 2012, increasing at an annual rate of 1.8 percent after decreasing 0.7 percent (revised) in the third quarter, the Department of Commerce reports. Prices were up, however, including air travel costs.

By comparison, growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 after increasing 3.1 percent in the third quarter.

For the year, real spending on travel and tourism increased 2.7 percent in 2012 after increasing 3.2 percent in 2011. By comparison, real GDP increased 2.2 percent in 2012 after increasing 1.8 percent in 2011.

The leading contributors to the increase in the fourth quarter were “traveler accommodations” and “food services and drinking places,” which increased 9.4 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.

Partially offsetting these increases was a 3.7 percent decline in “all other transportation-related commodities,” and a 3.2 percent decline in “passenger air transportation.” The leading contributors to the decline within “all other transportation-related commodities” were “gasoline” and “automotive rental and leasing,” Commerce says.

Overall growth in prices for travel and tourism goods and services turned up in the fourth quarter of 2012, increasing 2.3 percent following a 0.4 percent decrease in the third quarter. 

The fourth quarter upturn reflected an upturn in passenger air transportation prices and a smaller decrease in traveler accommodations prices. For the year, prices for travel and tourism increased 2.6 percent in 2012 after increasing 5.1 percent in 2011.

Employment in the travel and tourism industries increased 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 after increasing 1.3 percent (revised) in the third quarter. By comparison, overall U.S. employment increased 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter after increasing 1.2 percent in the third quarter. For the year, employment in the travel and tourism industries increased 2.2 percent in 2012 after increasing 1.8 percent in 2011. By comparison, overall U.S. employment increased 1.7 percent in 2012 after increasing 1.2 percent in 2011.

Real spending on “traveler accommodations” accelerated, increasing 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 after increasing 5.3 percent in the third quarter. Despite a hurricane in the fourth quarter, which closed many hotels in the Northeast, overall occupancy rates accelerated. Real spending on “food services and drinking places” also accelerated, increasing 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter after increasing 0.6 percent in the third quarter, Commerce reports.

Prices for “passenger air transportation” turned up, increasing 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter after decreasing 11.5 percent in the third quarter. Airline load factors (an indicator of capacity utilization) remained high as spending from both leisure and business travelers improved. Prices for “traveler accommodations” decreased 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter after decreasing 8.2 percent in the third quarter, Commerce said.

Employment in the travel and tourism industries decelerated in the fourth quarter, increasing 0.4 percent after increasing 1.3 percent in the third quarter. The deceleration was more than accounted for by a downturn in “food services and drinking places.”

Commerce said that total Tourism-Related Spending in the U.S. includes the goods and services that are purchased directly by tourists and also a portion of the goods and services produced by the supply chain that supports tourism activity; for example, a firm that supplies linens to hotels and restaurants.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, total current-dollar tourism-related spending was $1.5 trillion and consisted of $865.3 billion (60 percent) of direct tourism spending — goods and services sold directly to visitors — and $589.1 billion (40 percent) of indirect tourism-related spending — goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase.

Total Tourism-Related Employment was 7.7 million jobs in the fourth quarter of 2012 and consisted of 5.5 million (71 percent) direct tourism jobs — jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors — and 2.2 million (29 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs — jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase.

Tourism spending comprises all goods and services purchased by tourists (defined as people who travel for any reason). 

The statistics are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).BEA’s Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts (TTSAs), are supported by funding from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.  

Visit www.bea.gov

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