Celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week – It’s Been a Great Year so Far

May 11, 2011

Helen Marano is the Director of ITA’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) and is a 20+ year travel and tourism industry veteran.

This week we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week by recognizing the men, women, businesses, tour operators, hotels, rental car agencies, and all forms of transportation that make up the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The travel and tourism industry accounts for nearly 3 percent of our nation’s GDP and 5.5 million people are directly employed in travel and tourism jobs. The total impact of travel and tourism and tourism on the U.S. was $1.33 trillion in 2010, up seven percent over 2009. 

One thing that some people may not understand about international travelers is that when they come to see our natural wonders, attend a major trade show or conference or attend business meetings it is considered a service export. Travel and tourism is the largest service export from the United States and we’ve enjoyed a trade surplus since 1989. International visitors spent $134 billion in 2010 and the top countries that send visitors to the United States include Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.

The U.S. is second only to France in our share of world travelers, and we are the top country for international travel spending.  The fastest growth markets for international travel to the U.S. are forecast to come from China, Brazil, Korea, India and Australia. 

Twice a year the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries issues a forecast of tourism arrivals to the U.S. The forecast covers 12 world regions and 200 origin countries. The program provides forecasted arrivals for a 6-year horizon.

The release of the forecast data is timed to coincide with the Discover America International POW WOW conference in May, hosted in San Francisco this year between May 21st and the 25th, and the Outlook Forum in October each year.

The most recent forecast, which projects arrivals through 2015, predicts that international arrivals will reach nearly 83 million, an increase of 51 percent from 2009, through 2015.

We will be releasing our upcoming forecast covering 2011-2016 during this year’s POW WOW so keep an eye on this spot for new and data in the upcoming weeks.