Facts for one of America’s leading industries

U.S. Travel’s one-page overview showcasing travel’s impact on America is filled with facts and stats.

The U.S. Travel Association - a national, non-profit organization representing all components of the United States travel industry - releases their U.S. Travel Answer Sheet on an annual basis. This one-page document outlines facts related to leisure travel, business travel and international travel.

Leisure travel, as defined by the Travel Industry Dictionary, is travel taken for pleasure. The primary motivation for this type of travel is to escape everyday-life for relaxation. According to U.S. Travel, leisure travel generates $99.6 billion in tax revenue and accounts for nearly 79 percent of domestic trips. In 2015, direct spending from domestic and international travelers totaled nearly $651 billion. The report identifies the top five leisure travel activities for U.S. domestic travelers: (1) visiting relatives, (2) shopping, (3) visiting friends, (4) fine dining, and (5) going to beaches.

Business travel, which includes meetings, events and incentives, topped out at $121.9 billion in spending. In fact, U.S. residents logged 454.5 million business related trips where one person was away from home overnight in paid accommodation or on a day trip to locations 50 miles (one way) or more from home.

International travel, both to and from the U.S., generates significant amounts of money for host countries. For example, international traveler spending in the U.S. in 2015 totaled nearly $133 billion. U.S. residents, on the other hand, spent nearly $110 billion abroad that same year. That is a $23 billion trade surplus from international travel.

The United States received 75 million international arrivals in 2015 and approximately 53 percent of those were from Canada and Mexico. In 2014, the top five highest international arrivals to the U.S. came from Canada (23 million), Mexico (17.1 million), United Kingdom (4.1 million), Japan (3.6 million) and Brazil (2.3 million).

The report goes on to say that the number of jobs supported via international travel spending is about 1.1 million and just more than $28 billion in wages. According to data from 2013, overseas travelers stay an average of 18 nights and spend nearly $4,400.

Clearly the impact of travel into and from the U.S. is significant. According to U.S. Travel, each U.S. household would pay nearly $1,200 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by travel and tourism.

In Michigan, in the absence of state and local taxes from tourism, each household would have to pay $640 dollars to fill the gap. Michigan generates $2.4 billion in state and local taxes via the high volume of tourism we receive annually. For example, Michigan received 113.4 million visitors in 2014, which helped sustain the 214,000 jobs in the industry annually.

Tourism in Michigan is essential to our state’s economy, and sustaining this industry is imperative to our revitalization and resiliency to future challenges. Michigan State University Extension works with local communities throughout the state to identify strengths and assets to leverage for tourism.

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