Real spending on recreation and entertainment in the United States accelerated in the third quarter, increasing 7.9 percent from the second quarter, according to the latest figures the U.S. Department of Commerce.

That was more than twice as fast as the overall economy and marked the fastest quarter-to-quarter growth since the second quarter of 2011. Spending on recreation and entertainment rose just 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2012. By comparison, real gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the overall growth in the output of products and services, grew 2.7 percent (second estimate) in the third quarter and 1.3 percent in the second quarter.

Spending on recreation and entertainment reached $167 billion during the quarter, including $77.4 billion on recreation and entertainment and $90.1 billion on related shopping. 

The robust performance was masked by a sharp decline in prices for fuel, lodging and air travel, which resulted in a 0.6 percent decline in real spending on overall travel and tourism during the quarter, the government estimated. Such spending increased 2.2 percent (revised) in the second quarter amid rising fuel prices.

The government said a 5.3 percent increase in spending on traveler accommodations, a 7.9 percent increase in spending on recreation and entertainment and higher spending on air transportation during the third quarter helped offset a 6.2 percent decline in spending on all other transportation-related commodities. That decline was attributed primarily to a downturn in spending on fuel, travel arrangement and reservation services and automotive rental and leasing.

Employment in travel and tourism industries, meanwhile, increased 1.3 percent in the third quarter after increasing 1.1 percent in the second quarter, also indicated continuing growth in spending on tourism and travel.