Rebound in U.S. Visitation
International Travelers to U.S. Set Record,
But Industry-Related Job Losses Continued
Talk about a turnaround.
The United States travel and tourism industries welcomed 60 million international visitors in 2010, 4.8 million more than the 2009 trough of the Great Recession. Arrivals from overseas markets totaled 26.4 million (44 percent of the total); from Canada, 20 million; and from Mexico 13.5 million, according to the 2010 year-in-review report just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. Seventeen of the top 20 inbound visitor markets posted increases, and 13 of them registered double-digit improvements. Setting the pace for the record-setting visitation were Brazil, South Korea, Australia, China, India and Colombia.
What really matters, though, is the money they spent. They infused $134.4 billion into the U.S. economy, almost 12 percent more than in 2009. That amount, however, is still 5 percent behind pre-economic downturn numbers. The Asia and Pacific region — with visitors from China leading the pack — registered the strongest rebound of any region in travel and tourism-related spending in the U.S.
The flip side, though, is industry-related employment, which lost 112,000 jobs in 2010, the third consecutive year of workforce reductions. The industry has shed nearly 1.1 million jobs since 2007. Declines in 2008, 2009 and 2010 are more than double the number of jobs lost in the three years following 9/11. (For more information, visit http://tinet.ita.doc.gov)
Still, over the next 10 years travel and tourism’s total contribution to global GDP is projected to rise to $9.2 trillion and bring with it 65 million new jobs. To capture a big share of that lucrative business, the non-profit Brand USA, Inc. (originally created by Congress as the Corporation for Travel Promotion) launches a multimillion-dollar marketing program in spring of 2012 (DiscoverAmerica.com).
At the same time, meetings demand globally appears to be rising, according to a recent survey by American Express Meetings & Events. Key trends for global meetings in 2012: they will be shorter and smaller, closer to home, greener, and with fuller agendas. — Maxine Golding
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