The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced that international visitors spent an estimated $13.7 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month of March - an increase of more than $1.5 billion, or 13 percent, from March 2011. Year-to-date, U.S. travel and tourism exports have grown nearly 13 percent in 2012, and the industry has generated a $10.6 billion trade surplus during the first quarter of 2012. These numbers come on the heels of National Travel and Tourism Week and the Administration’s announcement of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, a blueprint for the Federal government to welcome 100 million international visitors by the end of 2021, which was unveiled last week by Commerce Secretary Bryson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“Today’s data shows that America remains a top destination for international visitors,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “The travel and tourism industry - our number one services export - has enjoyed 27 consecutive months of uninterrupted growth. Commerce will continue working to support this critical industry, which creates millions of American jobs. Those efforts include carrying out initiatives recently unveiled in the Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy to increase travel and tourism to the United States.”
The data announced today include purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the U.S., which totaled a record-breaking $10.4 billion in March, an increase of nearly 12 percent from 2011. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers and U.S. vessel operators from international visitors increased nearly 16 percent to a historic high of $3.3 billion in March. This represents an increase of nearly $450 million when compared to March 2011, and resulted in a $350 million trade surplus for passenger fares.
The U.S. travel and tourism industry is a substantial component of U.S. GDP, exports and employment, and efforts to make America the top tourist destination in the world offer a tremendous opportunity to create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy. International spending on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services set an all-time record of $153 billion in 2011, an 8.1 percent increase from 2010, and supported an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million industry jobs. These positive trends confirm the historic progress we are making on the path to achieving the President’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.