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Travel and Tourism - US - May 2015

“At the beginning of the millennium, no one could have predicted the difficult years that lay ahead for the US tourism industry. Over the last 15 years the sector has been dented by well-documented events like 9/11, SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome], swine flu and the media focus on global terrorism. The 2007/08 global financial crisis and the US recession (December 2007-June 2009) were also detrimental to the US tourism industry. The post-2010 recovery in the US’ international tourism industry has been impressive, and far outstrips the UNWTO Tourism Towards 2030 forecast for North America of 2% per annum from 2010-20.”
- Jessica Kelly, Senior Tourism Analyst

This report looks at the following areas:

  • What is the relationship between tourism and the US economy?
  • How has the US tourism industry fared since the economic downturn of 2007/08?
  • How does the tourism infrastructure support the development of the country’s international tourism market?
  • What impact has Brand USA had on the country’s tourism industry?
  • What will the US tourism industry look like going forward?


The US is one of the biggest tourism destinations in the world, ranking second behind France in 2013, if measured by international arrivals, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). When it comes to international tourism receipts, the US is currently the clear leader. A big hitter with foreign and domestic visitors alike, the tourism market in the US is expected to be in excess of 1.4 billion tourists in 2015 and number more than 1.5 billion in 2018 (Mintel Market Sizes – US – Travel and Tourism – Market Size – 2013).

Despite these impressive statistics, the US tourism industry has lost some of its market share of long-haul arrivals over the last 15 years. This decline has been inextricably linked to a series of well-documented events (like 9/11 and the 2009 swine flu pandemic) – that could not have been predicted nor legislated against – and compounded by the global economic downturn and the country’s post-2008 economic woes.

A more stable economy and a concerted effort to attract international tourists – through the development of a national tourism body (Brand USA) and more co-operative tourism promotion – has helped reverse the fortunes of the US tourism industry: international arrivals and tourism exports have increased annually over the past three years and are expected to continue to do so through to 2023 and beyond.

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Table of contents

  1. US – Key Facts

    • Introduction

      • Data Sources

        • Background

          • History
            • Geography
            • Attractions

                • Figure 1: Most visited US states, by international tourists, 2008-15
                • Figure 2: Most visited US cities, by international tourists, 2008-15
            • Tourism and the Economy

                • Figure 3: Travel- & tourism-related exports, 2008-15
                • Figure 4: Travel & tourism direct contribution to GDP, 2008-15
                • Figure 5: Travel expenditure in the US, 2008-15
                • Figure 6: Travel & tourism direct contribution to employment, 2008-15
                • Figure 7: Tourism employment, by industry group, 2008-15
            • Arrivals

              • International
                • Figure 8: International tourist arrivals to the US, 2000-15
              • Major markets
                • Figure 9: Leading source markets for arrivals to the US, 2008-15
              • Western Europe
                • Emerging markets
                  • BRICs
                    • Asia Pacific
                      • Domestic
                        • Figure 10: Domestic travel in the US, 2008-15
                    • Market Characteristics

                      • International
                        • Purpose of visit
                          • Figure 11: Main purpose of visit, 2008-15
                          • Figure 12: Main purpose of trips, by selected tourism-generating countries, 2013
                        • Seasonality
                          • Figure 13: International arrivals, by month, 2010-15
                        • Length of stay
                          • Figure 14: Average length of stay (nights), 2008-15
                          • Figure 15: Average length of stay (nights), by residents of the top tourism-generating countries, 2010-15
                        • Domestic
                          • Purpose of visit
                            • Figure 16: Domestic trips, by purpose of visit, 2008-15
                            • Figure 17: Domestic travel & tourism spending by type of visitor, 2008-15
                          • Seasonality
                            • Length of stay
                              • Figure 18: Length of stay of domestic tourists staying in lodgings, 2013
                          • Transport

                              • Air
                                • Figure 19: Passenger arrivals at the top 15 US airports, 2008-14
                              • Road
                                • Rail
                                  • Sea
                                  • Accommodation

                                      • Figure 20: Size of the US hotel & lodgings industry, 2008-13
                                      • Figure 21: Location of hotels & lodgings, 2013
                                      • Figure 22: Hotel & lodging provision by room rate, 2013
                                      • Figure 23: Hotel & lodging provision by size of property, 2013
                                      • Figure 24: Snapshot of the US hotel industry, 2008-13
                                      • Figure 25: Top 10 US markets, by number of rooms under construction, December 2013 & December 2014
                                  • Tourism News

                                      • Brand USA
                                        • US airlines and airport security
                                        • What Next?

                                            • Tourism forecast
                                              • Figure 26: International arrivals forecast, 2015-24
                                              • Figure 27: Travel & tourism direct contribution to GDP, 2015-24

                                          Companies Covered

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                                          Travel and Tourism - US - May 2015

                                          £175.00 (Excl.Tax)