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'Lost Decade' in Overseas Travel to U.S. Cost 440,000 Jobs and $500 Billion in Spending

Nationally Coordinated Travel Promotion Campaign Needed
to Save U.S. Jobs, Help Spur Economic Recovery

February 22, 2010 - Washington, DC - A new report by the U.S. Travel Association in conjunction with Oxford Economics reveals that the decline in overseas travel to the United States since 2000 has cost America 440,000 jobs and more than $500 billion in total travel-related spending.

According to analysis of international travel figures, the failure of the United States to simply keep pace with the growth in international long-haul travel worldwide has cost our economy:
  • 68.3 million lost visitors, each of whom on average spend well over $4,000 dollars.
  • $509 billion in lost spending, including $214 billion in direct spending and $295 billion in downstream spending at restaurants, retailers and scores of other small businesses.
  • 441,000 lost jobs, direct and indirect, in all regions of the country.
  • $32 billion in lost tax revenue at the federal, state and local levels.
  • $270 billion in lost trade surplus, as international travel to the U.S. is our largest service export.

"While international travel has been an oasis of opportunity, we're still lost in the desert," said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel's president and CEO. "We can't afford another lost decade when we're looking for ways to kick-start the economy and create jobs."

According to Dow, the U.S. welcomed a projected 2.4 million fewer overseas visitors in 2009 than in 2000. This contrasts with the growth in international travel over the decade, which resulted in 46.3 million more international travelers taking long-haul trips in 2009 than in 2000.

The projected 2009 results show 23.5 million visitors to the U.S. from overseas, a decline of 7.1 percent compared with the 25.3 million who visited in 2008. U.S. Travel's projections are based on figures reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce through November. The department's final figures for 2009 are expected to be released soon.

Dow urged final passage of bipartisan legislation awaiting action in the Senate to create the first-ever promotion and communications program aimed at attracting international travelers to the U.S.

In calling for prompt action on the Travel Promotion Act, Dow cited a recent study showing the widespread benefits of sending a welcoming message around the world: Oxford Economics found that the impact of a well-executed, fee-funded promotion program of $200 million will attract 1.6 million new visitors each year, add $4 billion to the U.S. economy annually, produce $320 million per year in new federal tax revenues and create approximately 40,000 new U.S. jobs. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the bill will reduce the deficit by $425 million and increase revenues by $135 million over the next 10 years.

Dow concluded: "If not now, when?"

Click here to view The Lost Decade: The High Costs of America's Failure to Compete for International Travel.


Kristy Chandler 202-408-2172
Cathy Keefe 202-408-2183



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