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U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data Showing Tourism Spending Increased 8.1 percent in 2011, Supporting an Additional 103,000 Tourism-Related Jobs

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

International visitor spending hits all-time record of $153 billion

The U.S. Department of Commerce today released tourism data revealing that international and domestic tourism spending increased 8.1 percent in 2011, supporting an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million. A big factor in the increase was a surge in international visitors to our country: in 2011, 62 million international visitors came to the United States, an increase of 2.5 million from the year before. These international visitors spent an all time record of $153 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services. The large volume of international visitors makes travel and tourism our number-one service export. These figures come on the heels of President Obama’s announcement of new initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the U.S.

“Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world visit America, and the more visitors we have, the more Americans we get back to work. This Administration will not let up on our efforts to support the tourism industry and make America more welcoming to visitors from all over the world,” said Commerce Secretary John Bryson. “The international travel data announced today further underscores the fact that America is open for business, and we will do everything we can to boost this industry so that we can keep growing our economy and creating more jobs.”

“Today’s data confirms that international tourism is an enormous economic engine in this country," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "Our national parks, public lands and water play a critical role in President Obama’s tourism strategy as we work to identify new ways to raise the profile of our country’s most iconic destinations. As more and more international visitors choose the United States for their next vacation, local economies-hotels, restaurants, gas stations-will continue to benefit.”

As part of the initiatives to increase travel and tourism in the U.S., President Obama in January created a Task Force for Travel and Competitiveness to build on this momentum and continue to create jobs. In the announcement, the president charged Secretary Bryson and Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar with developing recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the U.S., thereby supporting job creation in this vital industry.

This afternoon, Secretary Bryson will host the third meeting with the full interagency Task Force to discuss the progress made toward developing an action plan to enhance travel to and within the U.S. in the coming months.

The Task Force is particularly focused on strategies for increasing tourism and recreation jobs by promoting visits to our national treasures; our national parks, wild refuges, cultural and historic sites, monuments, and other public lands and water that can attract travelers from around the country and the globe. As part of those efforts, Commerce’s International Trade Administration is continuing to supply the travel and tourism industry with important data, including international arrivals to the U.S., the forecast of international travel to America for over 30 countries, and estimates of the total impact of travel and tourism on the economy, among others. Secretary Bryson will also promote the National Strategy on a trade mission to India next week as an effort to create American jobs by becoming even more welcoming to visitors from around the world.

In December 2011 alone, international visitors spent $12.6 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States, which is a 9 percent increase over December 2010. Travel and tourism-related exports increased, on average, more than $1.5 billion a month in 2011.

To learn more about Commerce’s efforts to increase travel to the U.S. visit