The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced that international visitors spent an estimated $18.2 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month of October, marking the seventh month this year in which monthly travel and tourism-related exports were lower than the previous year. Previously, passenger fares exports (what international visitors spend to get here) were pulling down total tourism-related exports – largely a function of declining fuel prices and thus lower fares – but now lower-than-average travel receipts (what international visitors while here) have turned downward, too. These downturns in passenger fare receipts and travel receipts were partially offset by an appreciable increase (10%) in visitor spending on medical, education, and/or by short-term workers.1
- Travel Receipts: Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11.1 billion during October, a decrease of less than one percent (-0.1%) 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. Travel receipts accounted for 61 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during October 2015.
- Passenger Fare Receipts: Fares received by U.S. carriers from international visitors totaled $3.2 billion for the month, a decrease of nearly 12 percent when compared to October 2014. Passenger fare receipts accounted for 18 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during October.
- Medical/Education/Short-Term Worker(1): Expenditures for educational and health-related tourism, along with all expenditures by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers, totaled $3.9 billion in October, an increase of nearly 10 percent when compared to the same period last year. Medical tourism, education, and short-term worker receipts accounted for 21 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during October 2015.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Year-to-date international visitor spending totaled $181.0 billion (January through October 2015), a decrease of 1 percent when compared to same period last year. Conversely, U.S. residents have spent $129.4 billion traveling abroad year to date, an increase of more than 7 percent. As a result, the United States ran a $51.6 billion trade surplus for travel and tourism through October 2015.
In October 2015 the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released annual revisions of the U.S. international transactions data, of which travel and tourism-related spending are a part; as a result, we have revised annual international visitor spending data for 2012, 2013, and 2014.
In 2014 international visitors spent $220.8 billion (revised) experiencing the United States, an increase of 3 percent when compared to the previous year. These travel and tourism exports accounted for 31 percent of all U.S. services exports and 9 percent of all U.S. exports, goods and services alike.