This is National Travel and Tourism Week!

May 12, 2010

Ron Erdmann is the Deputy Director, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries and  has been in the travel and tourism industry for more than 25 years and has spent more than 20 years of that time at the Department of Commerce.

National Travel and Tourism Week was formally established in 1983 when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution designating the week to be celebrated in May 1984. This year, we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week May 8-16 and support the effort to promote the power of travel through customized events in communities nationwide. The goal is to enhance the country’s economy, security and perception, and recognize the cultural and social benefits created by travel and tourism.

A quiz in honor of National Tourism Week:

1.  Why is international travel to the U.S. an export?

2.  How much did international travelers spend in the U.S. in 2009?

3.  Can you name any of the top ten markets that generate travel exports for the country?

4.  Is tourism gaining or losing so far in 2010?

5.  Where can you find more information about the travel and tourism industry and its impact on the nation’s economy?


  1. International travel is an export when visitors to this country spend their money on U.S. flag carriers to get to the country, or when they spend money on travel related items like lodging, food, attractions, shopping or other transportation within the country.
  2. In 2009, international visitors spent $121 billion here in the United States!  Even though that’s 15 percent less than what was received in 2008, it’s still the third highest travel export earnings the U.S. has ever seen!  The record year for spending?  2008 — $141 billion.  Check out the whole “year in review” for more interesting factoids and tidbits.
  3. Did you know that travel as an export is bigger than automotive vehicles ($81 billion) and agriculture ($93 billion)?  Travel is considered an export of services, and in 2009 it accounted for 24 percent of all services exports for the United States.
  4. Citizens from Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, Japan, France, and Australia account for a large portion of international visitors to the United States. Travel exports from the top 10 markets have a major impact on the country, accounting for 61 percent of all travel exports for the U.S. — $74 billion.  Seven of these top 10 markets “outrank the average” by posting a greater than 24 percent share of overall services exports.  In these markets, travel leads the way as an important service export for the country. The full 2009 travel spending report is available and can provide much more detail on the activities of international visitors to the United States.
  5. While travel spending dipped in 2009 due to the global economic downturn that also caused world travel exports to decline for the second time since 2001, the good news is that spending by international visitors to the United States is starting to rebound.  In February 2010, after 15 straight months of declines in traveler spending, the USA saw a $2 million increase in travel exports for the month. Arrivals and spending by international travelers to the country are all available on the OTTI website.Arrivals and spending figures are reported each month and the most current information is through February 2010.  We encourage you to spend time exploring the many links to reports on the international travel market for this country.  This data can provide key insights on the shifts occurring in the international inbound market to this country and help you identify markets that may be right for you.

Check out the 11 world regional profiles and 22 country profiles offered to help guide this country to increase travel exports as part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative.