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New Report Forecasts Strong U.S. Travel and Tourism Growth During Next Five Years

Monday, May 23, 2011

Number of tourists from China, South Korea and Brazil expected to rise dramatically, boosting U.S. exports in tourism-related services

According to new data released today by the Commerce Department, the U.S. can expect 6-8 percent average annual growth in tourism over the next five years, and this year, 64 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the United States, spending $144 billion during their stays, setting a new record for travel exports. The 2011 International Travel and Tourism Forecast also shows that the services trade surplus, which includes travel and tourism, is up 28 percent so far this year, putting it on track to exceed the record of $32 billion set in 2010.  Tourism is one of the most significant sources of exports in the United States, and money spent by international tourists in the U.S. supports millions of service sector jobs. 

“Growth in travel and tourism – with many international visitors spending a lot of money in America – will help us achieve the President’s goal of doubling exports, which will support millions of American jobs,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Last year, our nation hosted a record-breaking number of international visitors, and the future looks even brighter.”

In 2010, 60 million international visitors traveled to the U.S., generating more than $134 billion in receipts and a $32 billion trade surplus, according to the report. Nearly 8 million people in the United States are employed in travel and tourism industries, and 1.2 million are tied directly to international travelers.

“Travel and tourism has been producing a trade surplus every year for more than two decades,” Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said today at the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow in San Francisco. “Without the continued strength of America’s tourism industry, we wouldn’t have seen the strong export growth of the last year.”

The Pow Wow is the largest travel event in the United States. More than 5,000 people, from 70 countries, attend to learn about tourism opportunities in the U.S.

Tourists from all world regions are forecast to grow over the period, ranging from a low for the Middle East (+29 percent), to a high for South America (+83 percent), Asia (+82 percent), and Oceania (+82 percent).  All but two of the top-40 visitor origin countries are forecast to grow from 2010 through 2016 (Ireland and Jamaica are the exceptions).  Countries with the largest total growth percentages are China (+232 percent), South Korea (+200 percent), Brazil (+150 percent), Russian Federation (+139 percent), and India (+94 percent).

The North America world region will account for half of the total visitor growth of 29 million visitors (51 percent). Asia (+20 percent), Western Europe (+12 percent), and South America (+9 percent) account for the bulk of the remaining 49 percent of total growth in visitor volume forecast in 2016 compared to 2010 actual volume.

For additional information on the forecast for travel to the United States for 2011-2016 visit