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International Visitor Spending in the United States: September 2015

November 17, 2015 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

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 September, an ever-so-slight increase of less than 1 percent when compared to September 2014 and only the third time this year in which monthly spending was higher than last year.

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Were it not for markedly lower passenger fare exports – largely a function of declining fuel prices and thus lower fares – total travel and tourism exports for September would have risen nearly 5 percent over last year.

  • Travel Receipts: Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11.2 billion during September, an increase of more than 3 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. Travel receipts accounted for 62 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during September 2015.
  • Passenger Fare Receipts: Fares received by U.S. carriers from international visitors totaled $3.1 billion for the month, a decrease of nearly 15 percent when compared to September 2014. Passenger fare receipts accounted for 17 percent of total U.S. travel and tourism exports during September.
  • 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 September, an increase of more than 9 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 September 2015.

Year-to-date international visitor spending totaled $163.5 billion (January through September 2015), a decrease of 1 percent when compared to same period last year. Conversely, U.S. residents have spent $115.9 billion traveling abroad year to date, an increase of more than 7 percent. As a result, the United States ran a $47.6 billion trade surplus for travel and tourism through September 2015.

Annual Revisions

On June 18, 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.

Unfortunately, the National Travel and Tourism Office is no longer able to report annual travel and tourism export figures (international visitor spending in the United States) by country until early November each year. The National Travel and Tourism Office relies on data provided by BEA (e.g., spending by visitors from China on U.S. flag carriers) to report these country-specific data. Previously, BEA released these preliminary data in March; now, however, BEA will not publish these data until late October.  As a result, the National Travel and Tourism Office will necessarily alter its reporting schedule accordingly.

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