U.S. travel abroad slips, spending plummets

The number of travelers leaving the United States fell 3 percent from 2008 to 2008. According to the latest data from the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, 61.5 million people comprised the outbound market in 2009. Travel Mexico was off 4 percent year over year, with Canada falling 7 percent. Overseas destinations – i.e., everywhere else – sustained a decline of 2 percent. It wasn’t all bad news, though. Records were set for Central America, Africa and the Middle East – particularly Greece, the Dominican Republic and Italy.

Spending, meanwhile, continued to lag last year. The fact that U.S. travelers spent 12 percent less abroad in 2009 than they did in 2008 suggests that budgets remained constrained. Spending within foreign countries fell 8 percent to $73.2 billion, and the cash put out for transportation via foreign air carriers plunged 20 percent to $26 billion. Nonetheless, people were finding ways to travel abroad, even if they couldn’t do it as lavishly as they did the year before.

[chart courtesy of the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries]