"By the Numbers” is a periodic look at data on the travel economy from sources outside of the U.S. Travel Association, examining how the numbers align with U.S. Travel’s own research and analysis.
Accounting for the small differences that are explained by inputs and methodology, WTTC’s numbers track closely with U.S. Travel’s.
Importantly, the WTTC data points directly at a problem the American travel community has been voicing for some time: the U.S. is falling behind the rest of world in capitalizing on the overall expansion of global travel and tourism. Given the importance of international travel to our trade balance and the growth of quality domestic jobs, this trend ought to be a matter of national concern.
Total Travel and Tourism GDP in the U.S.
According to the WTTC, the U.S. retained its status as the world’s largest travel and tourism economy. The WTTC estimates a tourism GDP of $1.6 trillion, accounting for 7.8 percent of total U.S. GDP. This estimate includes direct, indirect and induced tourism GDP in the U.S.
While U.S. Travel considers direct tourism GDP, we do not extend the measurement to include indirect and induced effects.
WTTC’s recommendations for growing travel and tourism to the U.S. mirror U.S. Travel’s own priorities, including the renewal of Brand USA, expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, modernizing airport infrastructure and the expansion of biometric passenger identification technologies.
International Travel Spending in the U.S.
WTTC’s estimate of spending by international visitors in the U.S. includes two components of U.S. travel exports: visitor spending and passenger fare receipts.
U.S. Travel publishes the official estimates of the U.S. government for total U.S. travel exports (including travel spending, passenger fare receipts, as well as international traveler spending on medical, educational and cross-border/seasonal work-related activities). In many cases, especially when comparing international inbound travel spending with domestic, U.S. Travel uses the government’s estimates of international “travel spending,” which is a subset of overall travel exports.
The WTTC’s estimates of visitor spending and passenger fare receipts are consistent with the U.S. government’s estimates of these two components.
The WTTC’s estimate of 15.6 million travel jobs is identical to U.S. Travel's.