Travel: What’s it Really Worth?

What’s it worth? Plenty. Aside from facilitating business transactions and transporting families to favorite vacation destinations, it’s a major boon to the economy. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 2009 total output for travel and tourism had a value of nearly $700 billion. And the number of people traveling has been on the rise since that time.  

Where the Dollars Go:


Expenditure (In Millions)



 Traveler Accommodations  $130,915
 Food services and drinking places  $111,706
 Nondurable PCE commodities other than gasoline 1  $  95,615
 Domestic passenger air transportation services  $  67,210
 Gasoline  $  51,217
 International passenger air transportation services  $  45,404
 Gambling  $  41,365
 Travel arrangement and reservation services  $  34,733
 All other recreation and entertainment  $  16,608
 Other  $104,325
 TOTAL  $699,098

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

1. PCE:  Personal Consumption Expenditures





Top Foreign Travelers to USA and Why it Matters


During 2012 alone, 66.97 million foreign travelers came to the United States. Of these, 59.5 million or 89% came from twenty foreign countries. Below are the top 10 countries in order of rank and the percentage of change from the prior year.


CANADA CANADA 22,698,986 +6.4
MEXICO MEXICO 14,509,341 +7.5
JAPAN JAPAN 3,698,073 +13.8
GERMANY GERMANY  1,895,952  +2.9
BRAZIL BRAZIL  1,791,103  +18.8
CHINA CHINA (EXCL H.K.)  1,474,408  +35.3
FRANCE FRANCE  1,455,720  -3.2
SOUTH KOREA SOUTH KOREA  1,251,432  +9.3
U.S. Dept of Commerce



































Considering the impact that foreign travelers have on overall travel spending, successful marketers can utilize this information to help guide their geotargeting efforts in paid search marketing and other strategies. In addition, by recognizing the countries from which foreign clients originate, service providers are in a better position to accommodate the customs and unique cultural preferences of their guests.

For information on the top cities and states visited by foreign travelers, go to