Washington, D.C.

David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics at the U.S. Travel Association, provides analysis on today's Commerce Department announcement that overall exports increased $3.9 billion in December 2012 and imports fell $6.2 billion for the month.

David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics at the U.S. Travel Association, provides analysis on today's Commerce Department announcement that overall exports increased $3.9 billion in December 2012 and imports fell $6.2 billion for the month.

"Year-end figures released today reveal that travel exports reached an all-time high last year, making 2012 one for the history books. Spending by international visitors in the U.S. spurred travel exports to the highest level in four years, increasing to a record $168.1 billion last year.

"While overall exports of U.S. goods and services grew just four percent in 2012, travel exports more than doubled that pace, up 10 percent. The last time travel exports grew this much faster than overall U.S. exports was in 1990. The travel industry also posted a third consecutive year of double-digit export growth in 2012, a feat that has not been accomplished in two decades.

"And with travel exports growing faster than imports, the trade surplus in travel also rose to a record of $50 billion in 2012 from $43 billion in 2011. This $7 billion increase in the travel trade surplus is particularly encouraging, because it accounted for more than a third (37%) of the overall improvement in the U.S. trade balance last year.

"Travel has been a leading force in job creation in the economy over the past several years, and the durable strength of travel exports has been a major force that has enabled the travel industry to recover from the Great Recession. Enacting policies that boost international visitation to the U.S., such as expanding the Visa Waiver Program and lowering wait times at international ports of entry, will help the travel industry be a major job generator in the years ahead."

Huether is available for further analysis and comment.


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.6 trillion in economic output and supports 15.8 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org.