Proof that travel is a bright spot in the economy is offered by new Commerce Department data that shows international visitors have spent an estimated $82.2 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services year to date. This is an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year, reports the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA).
The new data confirms that the U.S. travel and tourism industry is on pace for another record-setting year and, if these trends to continue, international visitors could end up injecting more than $169 billion into the U.S. economy by year-end, the Commerce Department says.
“The travel data released today indicate that the second quarter of 2012 set a new record for travel and tourism exports," said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. "Tourism is a bright spot in our economy and is our number one services export."
"An important part of that is implementing the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which aims to attract more than 100 million international visitors annually by 2021, generating more than $250 billion annually in revenue.”
International visitors spent an estimated $13.8 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in June 2012—$860 million more or 7 percent more than was spent in June 2011. Travel and tourism-related exports have increased, on average, more than $1.3 billion a month during the first six months of 2012, Commerce says.
Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $10.6 billion during June, an increase of seven 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, Commerce said.
Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors increased by more than 6 percent to $3.3 billion for the month. U.S carriers have received nearly $19.6 billion from international visitors during the first 6 months of 2012, Commerce reports.
The National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Interior presented to the president in May, is a blueprint to increase international travel to the United States in order to build on this growing sector of the economy, Commerce said.
The strategy lays out concrete steps to be taken in five key areas, in addition to the goal of increasing international visitors to the United States.
"America's economic recovery is being driven largely by the travel industry," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "Each international visitor we welcome to the U.S. helps to support local communities and small businesses across our country. This is a tremendous opportunity; more can be done, and our industry stands ready to continue to encourage growth in international travel to the U.S."