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U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data Confirming Record-Setting Pace for International Visitor Spending in May 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

The U.S. Department of Commerce today released data showing that international visitors spent an estimated $13.9 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in May 2012—$1 billion, or 8 percent, more than what was spent in May 2011. Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced the new data during a Travel and Tourism Advisory Board meeting in Dearborn, MI, where she joined federal agency partners, in addition to U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), for a meeting with Board members to discuss the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to increase travel and tourism to the U.S. 

“The new international spending numbers mark 29 consecutive months of growth in the travel and tourism sector. Tourism remains a high-growth bright spot in our economy, and we’re on pace for yet another record year,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “The Obama administration’s number one priority remains strengthening our economy and creating jobs, and we will continue doing everything possible to make the U.S. even more welcoming to visitors to support even more American jobs.”

During the board meeting, members discussed implementation of the recently released National Travel and Tourism Strategy. The National Strategy is a blueprint for the Federal government to welcome 100 million international visitors each year by the end of 2021. The visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, supporting more jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country. 

The data announced today shows that purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors to the United States totaled $10.6 billion during May. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers from international visitors also increased by more than 8 percent to $3.3 billion for the month.

The U.S. travel and tourism industry is on pace for a record-setting year—international visitors have spent an estimated $68.4 billion thus far in 2012, an increase of 12 percent when compared to the same five-month period last year. Americans have also spent nearly $50 billion abroad year to date—resulting in an $18.4 billion trade surplus for travel and tourism through the first five months of 2012. These positive trends are helping to advance the President’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

As part of 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. The announcement charged the Commerce and Interior Department secretaries with developing a National Strategy, which the departments presented to President Obama in May. The strategy lays out concrete steps to be taken in five key areas, in addition to the goal of increasing international visitors to the United States. 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 more than 30 countries, and estimates of the total impact of travel and tourism on the economy, among others.

To learn more about Commerce’s ongoing efforts to promote international travel and tourism, visit For more information about the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, including a full list of Board members, visit