Travel Exports Rebound to $12.9 Billion

The rise in travel exports in January was the largest increase since last July, a good sign for the economy and job growth going forward, says David Huether, senior vice president of economics and research at the U.S. Travel Association, in his analysis of the Commerce Department announcement on international trade:

"Following a slowdown in the fourth quarter, travel exports rebounded in January, increasing by $296 million from December to a level of $12.9 billion for January 2012 – more than the exports of petroleum or agriculture products. And while the overall monthly trade deficit in goods and services worsened for a third consecutive month to a level of $-52.6 billion, the trade surplus in travel improved for the first time since August to a level of $3.4 billion in January. The rise in travel exports in January was the largest increase since last July, a good sign for the economy and job growth going forward," Huether said.

"Travel and tourism is leading the economic recovery, both in terms of job creation as well as export growth. To build on this success, the Obama Administration has recently announced a National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which, in part, will be aimed at increasing the number of overseas visitors traveling to America, whose spending in the U.S. supports solid American jobs that cannot be outsourced," Huether said.

"One of the key components of the national strategy is to increase the number of non-immigrant visas for countries with growing economies like Brazil and China. Quick action on this front will have an immediate and significant impact on the U.S. economy," he noted.

"Last year, the 2.6 million arrivals from China and Brazil spent $13 billion in the United States and supported more than 94,000 U.S. jobs, spending, on average, more than $5,000 per visitor. If the number of visas issued this year in just these two countries were to increase by 40 percent, the resulting increase in visitation to the U.S. would create more than 12,000 American jobs this year. This is more than three times the number of workers employed at the largest auto assembly plant in the state of Michigan."

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