International Travel Receipts
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International Visitor Spending

In 1999, international visitors spent $74.9 billion on travel-related expenses in the United States and another $19.8 billion on U.S. air carriers traveling to and from the United States. These receipts supported 1.1 million American jobs generating $22 billion in payroll and $11 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

International visitors spending set a new record in 1999 at $94.7 billion, which increased by 4 percent after last year's decline of 3 percent. This record surpassed the previous record set in 1997 at $94.3 billion.

Total international travel exports (or receipts) have grown by almost 26 percent since 1994 when international visitors spent $75.4 billion in the United States, including air passenger fares. The United States has not seen double digit growth in total travel receipts since 1992. The declines in Canadian arrivals for the last several years and other global and economic events caused slower growth in travel to the United States.

Japan remains the top market in generating travel receipts for the United States. In 1999, spending by Japanese visitors on travel and passenger fares totaled almost $13.3 billion, up $300,000 from 1998. The United Kingdom surpassed the $10 billion mark for the first time in 1999 to be the second largest generator of travel receipts for the United States. In 1999, Canadian visitors spent over $8 billion, up from almost $7.7 billion in 1998. This was the first increase in Canadian spending since 1996, and only the third increase in Canadian travel exports since 1990. Germany has been the fourth largest generator of travel receipts since 1995 when it overtook Mexico. German spending increased by 4 percent compared to 1998, totaling $5.7 billion. Mexico rounded out the top five travel export countries for the United States with $5.1 billion in export earnings, up 7 percent over 1998.

In addition to the extraordinary $95 billion in total travel exports for the United States, all of the countries and world regions recorded increases in 1999, with W. Europe and the UK in particular setting new records. Latin America and Asia did not fully recover from their declines in travel spending recorded in 1998, but they did register increases in 1999.

Spending by international visitors to the United States is considered an export because the money spent by these travelers comes to U.S. companies when they purchase lodging, gifts/souvenirs, food/beverages, transportation, entertainment, and other items in the United States. These international traveler expenditures also support U.S. jobs, as stated earlier in this analysis.

Tourism Industries provides BEA with the core arrival, expenditure and characteristic data which are then used to calculate receipts figures and payments made by U.S. travelers. Ultimately, the spending by international visitors to the country is used to calculate the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates. By reviewing the specific market profile information developed by Tourism Industries of traveler characteristics and expenditures, a clear understanding can be gained of what drives the receipt estimates.

The 1999 international travel export figures are revised estimates released in October 2000 by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). International travel exports are the combined categories of travel and passenger fares that are reported by BEA.

World regional and country data are available for 31 countries. Regional estimates are available for overseas (which includes all countries except Canada and Mexico), Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and a combined Caribbean, Central and South American estimate. These figures may be slightly different than the estimates released in May 2000.

The staff at Tourism Industries would like to stress that while watching arrivals to the United States and the destinations they visit, it is the spending that creates the economic impact from the international visitor. This impact includes the support of American jobs, and the generation of payroll and tax revenue from international visitors to this country.

Be sure to revisit Tourism Industries web site in May 2001 to obtain the preliminary 2000 international visitor receipts and U.S. air carrier fares (passenger fares).