Foreign spending in U.S. continues to fall

Foreign spending in the United States continues its downward spiral. According to recent U.S. Department of Commerce data, visitors to the United States from outside the country fell 17 percent from April 2008 to April 2009, settling at $9.5 billion. In conjunction with struggles in the domestic market, the result is an even greater gap that remains to be filled.

Spending on travel and tourism-related goods and services amounted to $7.4 billion in April, down 17 percent (consistent with the overall result). This consists of such products and services as food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment and travel within the country. Another $2.1 billion came from travel to the United States from other countries. This represents a fall of 18 percent from April of 2008 and a decline of 4 percent from March 2009.

This is the sixth month in a row in which U.S. travel exports fell relative to the same month the previous year.

  • November 2008: -4 percent
  • December 2008: -2 percent
  • January 2009: -5 percent
  • February 2009: -9 percent
  • March 2009: -19 percent
  • April 2009: -17 percent

While the year-over-year declines softened from March to April, it’s clear that, in general, the slide of U.S. travel exports has accelerated significantly. This trend is also a drastic change from the 60 months of gains that preceded it.

For the year, the situation is dismal, as well. From January through April, U.S. travel exports reached $40.3 billion, which is off 12 percent ($5.7 billion) from the same period in 2008. The United States still has a trade surplus – of $6.4 billion – but it’s down $2.3 billion year-over-year.