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U.S. Travel and Tourism: The Little Engine that Could

May 14, 2009

Sean Timmins is an International Trade Specialist on the Trade Missions Team in the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service. He is currently on rotation in the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries which serves as the National Tourism Office for the United States.

I am writing you today from the steps of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. where members of Congress and tourism leaders from the public and private sector are participating in the first ever U.S. Travel Rally Day. We are partnering with Destination DC (the local convention and visitors bureau) and the U.S. Travel Association to celebrate the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the United States’ economy. Similar rallies are taking place in 36 cities across the country, from Seattle to Orlando and Albuquerque to Cincinnati.

Helen Marano (right), Director, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, with Washington Capitals mascot "Slapshot" on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery while participating in U.S. Travel Rally Day. (U.S. Department of Commerce photograph.)

Helen Marano (right), Director, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, with Washington Capitals mascot “Slapshot” on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery while participating in U.S. Travel Rally Day. (U.S. Department of Commerce photograph.)

Did you know that the U.S. travel and tourism industry accounts for 2.6% of total U.S. GDP? Over 8 million American jobs are supported by the travel and tourism industry and almost a million of those jobs are supported by international travelers coming to the U.S. It’s important to remember that travel and tourism not only creates and supports jobs in hotels, airlines, and car rental companies, but also in restaurants, movie theaters, bars, malls, gas stations, coffee shops, amusement parks and just about anywhere else that provides a service. In 2008, a record 58 million international visitors came to the United States. The largest number came from Canada, followed by Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.

My boss, Helen Marano (Director, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries), said “Travel is the ultimate freedom. Peoples from every nation can get away from their daily lives to experience new destinations, ‘walk in different shoes,’ meet people from different cultures, and learn to appreciate both their differences and their similarities.” She went on to say, “Travel builds bridges between peoples and cultures. Travel builds understanding between peoples and cultures. Travel builds diplomacy.”

May is a big month for U.S. travel and tourism. Next week, the travel and tourism industry’s premier international sales and marketing event,

Pow Wow, will take place in Miami. More than 4,200 attendees have registered, including more than 1,600 international travel buyers and nearly 400 journalists from over 70 countries. Helen will be blogging from Miami, so check back next week to hear what she’s got to say about this event!

So get out there and do your part – become a traveler. You can start by logging onto www.DiscoverAmerica.com, a promotional website that was developed through a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association.

10 comments

  1. Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site.


  2. i always want to know about USA travels


  3. thanks for sharing this article. i enjoyed reading it.


  4. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any manner you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks!


    • Looking into this. Thank you and we are sorry for the inconvenience.


  5. This is really a new information, I was not at all aware of the fact that the U.S. travel and tourism industry accounts for 2.6% of total U.S. GDP.


  6. What a great thread. I have been heavily involved with travelling since my accident (now paraplegic). Its as if it has spurred me on to do everything in life that I have always dreamt of doing – as you never know when your last day might be.

    Great thread guys, really enjoyable.


  7. Yeah tourism is big money. Anytime you have people coming from outside the borders and bringing in money, it’s always a good thing. Tourism fuels a lot of the service industries for sure. Hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. Anyway, great post, had no idea that tourism had that much of an effect on the GDP and that is a lot of jobs.


  8. I’m curious to know what the breakdown is by state of the total 2.6%. In other words what are the top states for tourism that account for 80% of that 2.6%? Florida? Hawaii?


  9. This year seem to be the best for travelling to the USA.



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