Real spending on travel and tourism continued to outpace real growth of the overall economy in the first quarter, although spending on leisure accommodations was flat, the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce reported.
Real spending on travel and tourism increased at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after increasing 4.4 percent (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2011. By comparison, growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.9 percent (second estimate) in the first quarter after increasing 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter. It was the 11th consecutive increase in real quarterly spending following nine consecutive quarterly declines from 2007 through 2009.
The increase in real spending on tourism primarily reflected increases in traveler accommodations and in food services and drinking places. Real spending on passenger air transportation decelerated, increasing 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after increasing 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Real spending on traveler accommodations also decelerated, increasing 4.8 percent in the first quarter after increasing 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter. Business spending on traveler accommodations increased while leisure spending remained flat.
Employment in the travel and tourism industries increased 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after increasing 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. All industries saw increases in employment. The largest growth was in recreation and entertainment, which increased 4.3 percent in the first quarter after increasing 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter.
Total Tourism-Related Spending in the U.S. includes the goods and services that are purchased directly by tourists and also a portion of the goods and services produced by the supply chain that supports tourism activity; for example, a linen supply firm whose payroll, and other costs, are supported by travelers.
In the first quarter of 2012, total current-dollar tourism-related spending was $1.4 trillion and consisted of $848.6 billion (59 percent) of direct tourism spending – goods and services sold directly to visitors – and $577.9 billion (41 percent) of indirect tourism-related spending – goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.
Total Tourism-Related Employment was 7.6 million in the first quarter of 2012 and consisted of 5.4 million (71 percent) direct tourism jobs – jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors – and 2.2 million (29 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs – jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.