WASHINGTON, D.C. – Spending by international visitors to the United States in January 2013 outpaced January 2012 levels by nearly 11 percent, according to data recently released by the International Trade Administration (ITA). International visitors spent an estimated $14.4 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month.
“Record-setting growth in the travel and tourism industry continues to contribute to the strength of our nation’s economy,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export, and in 2012, record spending in the United States by international travelers contributed to $2.2 trillion in overall U.S. exports – the highest level in our country’s history. But there is more work to do. That is why we are working every day to implement the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to attract more visitors to our shores and support the nearly eight million Americans employed in this critical industry.”
Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $10.9 billion during January, an increase of more than 10 percent when compared to last year. 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 (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by more than 11 percent to $3.5 billion for the month, an increase of $355 million when compared to January 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of January in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.6 billion.
The January international travel and tourism spending data builds on the strong report recently released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which showed that for, employment in the travel and tourism industries increased 2.2 percent in 2012 after increasing 1.8 percent in 2011. Overall, tourism and tourism-related industries supported 7.7 million jobs in 2012, an increase of 2.1 percent when compared to the previous year. About 5.5 million (71 percent) of these positions were direct tourism jobs – jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors – while 2.2 million (29 percent) were indirect tourism-related jobs – jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase.
Increasing U.S. travel and tourism will not come at the expense of national security. The President’s plan for commonsense immigration reform includes a number of proposals to support his commitment to increasing U.S. travel and tourism while maintaining our nation’s security. Specifically, the President’s immigration proposal reforms the Visa Waiver Program to strengthen law enforcement cooperation while facilitating more efficient trade and tourism to the United States, securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry.