2012 International Travel and Tourism Shows Record Figures

February 22, 2013

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Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale is the Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services in the International Trade Administration.

For some Americans, the phrase travel and tourism simply brings to mind family road-trips, Caribbean vacations, and foreign tourists at Disneyland. For me it brings to mind the successful business model of economic growth and job creation we support at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

In January of 2012, President Obama charged the Departments of Commerce and Interior with developing and presenting to him a National Travel & Tourism Strategy. The strategy, delivered in May 2012, is the first federal government-wide travel and tourism strategy and is already bearing fruit.

Last year, the travel and tourism industry contributed nearly $1.4 trillion to the U.S. GDP and provided more than 7.5 million jobs for American workers. In 2012, the industry created $168.1 billion worth of U.S. exports, representing a 10 percent growth over last year. Over a two-year period the industry has grown nearly 25 percent. Moreover, as in years past, the travel and tourism industry is the largest service-export industry in the United States.

You may be thinking, how is the spending of an international tourist an “export?”   That such spending is an export is illustrated through the following hypothetical: A Brazilian family travels to Miami for vacation. Upon arrival, the family books several nights in a U.S. hotel. The next morning, the family shops at U.S. retail stores, buys American products, and eats three meals a day at U.S. restaurants. The family pays U.S. taxes with every purchase. The family’s visit is by all accounts a foreign investment in the U.S. economy – and, by extension, a job creator.

Numerous opportunities exist for the continued success of the U.S. travel and tourism industry. Global trends point to increased foreign travel and a growing middle class in Brazil, China, and India. The industry stands poised to achieve even greater growth.

Consider these interesting facts:

  • By 2017, the number of travelers from Brazil, China, and India –as compared to 2011− is expected to grow by 83 percent, 259 percent, and 47 percent, respectively. This represents a total of 4.4 million additional travelers from these three countries by 2017.
  • On average, each tourist that we attract from these areas will spend $4,000 during their stay in the United States.

These facts point to an increase in global tourism that we as a nation must attract and welcome. And that is exactly what we intend to do.

In fact, our strategy sets the goal of attracting over 100 million international visitors annually by 2021. These international visitors are projected to spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.

Here at the International Trade Administration, we are excited about the wealth of opportunities that lie ahead for our nation’s travel and tourism industry. We have room to grow and we are excited about doing everything we can to support the industry and the millions of America jobs the industry supports.


  1. Reblogged this on Ray Hays and commented:
    Good news from one of the most important U.S. service export sectors!

  2. Gr8 the stats are very Good!

  3. One of the ancilliary benefits of having a weaker dollar (relatively) – especially against the Euro is that it greatly increases travel from the old world to the new – with all the export benefits. I know of so many people have come over (repeatedly) post-euro transition because of the favorable exchange rate. And don’t forget the Canadians either! They can just hop in the car and drive over.

  4. More people are desiring to travel and boosting tourism to record levels. The improving state of the economy throughout the world after a number of years of crash and recession could be another contributor to these record highs as well.

  5. It’s always good to hear good news about the state of the world and our national economy. It is good for Brazil, China and India to have a growing middle class but we should not forget our own struggling middle class. Tourism is good for teenagers and college students that encompass the majority of the tourism’s industry sector and I’m sure it is still good for our middle class but I’d like to hear some examples of how it does.

    • Middle Class Country Like China, India, Brazil remains hot cake for the foreigner tourist. what is the reason actually, I found the reason behind it currency difference. It is fact or not

  6. For many people who live outside of America, it would be like a dream come true to be able to go to the US. America is like a dreamland to many people, so the 100 million visits target in 2021 is quite reasonable.

  7. More people are wishing to journey and enhancing journey and leisure to history stages. The enhancing state of the economic system throughout the world after a period of time of accident and economic downturn could be another factor to these record highs as well.

  8. It will be a great contribution to the tourism business by these three countries

  9. Nice job …….

  10. Great stats, i just wonder if 2013 is going to be as good as 2012.

  11. Not only tourism in States grows, but also interest about Europe improves. As it can also be said about immigration growth of Europe in recent years.


  12. Nice infromation about international tourism business like us. thanks for sharing with us. Hope so in future such a nice post from you.

    United 21 reosrt in kanha

  13. The stats are quite impressive.Good job.

  14. The statistics are impressive on tourism from three countries including India.

  15. Determination of objectives. The study team determines the preliminary objectives for tourism development, on the understanding that those objectives may need to be modified later, based on the results of the analysis and plan formulation. Establishing objectives, in consultation with the government, is basic to plan formulation. Tourism objectives should reflect the government’s general development policy and strategy. Objectives should be broken up into different categories or hierarchies (basic, intermediate, short-, medium- or long-term) and should be closely linked to the general economy of the country. Among the general objectives that a national tourism plan might include are: attaining a certain level of sectoral growth; improvement of employment conditions; maintenance of an appropriate foreign balance of payments; balanced regional development; conservation of the natural and cultural heritage as sustainable tourism resources, and the promotion of areas with high tourism potential.

    nice post.. thanks

  16. Interesting facts..hope this year’s record is even better

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