Travel spending from abroad jumped almost a billion dollars

Visitors from outside the United States are bringing plenty of cash with them. In February, they spent $11.6 billion on travel to the country and on tourism-related activities once they got here. That’s an increase of $970 million over February 2010. To top things off, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, this is the fourteenth month in a row that foreign visitor spending has increased.

On average, the cash that visitors from outside our borders being spent has grown more than $1 billion a month, on average, this year. It looks like people are traveling – and spending – again!

Foreign visitors spent $2.7 billion on travel to the United States in February, up close to 15 percent year over year. Spending on travel- and tourism-related goods and services in the United States hit $8.9 billion in February, up 7 percent. This includes “food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel.

In January and February, foreign visitors spent a total of $23.3 billion on travel to the United States and once here, up 10 percent year over year.

Meanwhile, Americans have spent $17.4 billion outside the country this year (including travel), representing an increase of 4 percent from the first two months of 2011.

Top 20 travel destinations – The 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report

top 20 travel destinations Every couple of years, the World Economic Forum crunches a bunch of numbers and releases a list of the top countries in the world to visit. While ranking 139 countries, they measure aspects such as pricing, culture, environmental protection, safety, and infrastructure. For the 2011 report, Switzerland remained at the number one spot – the returning champion from the last report in 2009. Nine out of the bottom ten countries are located in Africa, and seven out of the top ten are located in Europe. Chad ranked in at 139 out of 139. Italy, one of the most visited countries in the world, placed 27th. For the full list, download the PDF at the World Economic Forum website under the ‘reports’ tab.

20. Norway
19. New Zealand
18. Portugal
17. Finland
16. Denmark
15. Luxembourg
14. Netherlands
13. Australia
12. Hong Kong
11. Iceland
10. Singapore9. Canada
8. Spain
7. United Kingdom
6. United States
5. Sweden
4. Austria
3. France
2. Germany
1. Switzerland

flickr image via jeffwilcox

Travel and tourism markets on the rebound?

The travel and tourism markets are showing signs of a rebound It’s no secret that the poor global economy has hit the travel and tourism markets extremely hard over the past couple of years. Fewer people in general are traveling these days and those that are, have tended to stay closer to home. But it seems that the industry may be ready for a rebound, as a new report indicates that consumers are starting to spend more money on travel once again.

The report, which was conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, found that U.S. travel and tourism spending, adjusted for inflation, increased at an annual rate of 8 percent during the third quarter of 2010. That increase marked the largest quarterly growth in U.S. travel and tourism spending in six years, dating back to the first quarter of 2004. The good news didn’t end there either, as tourism related employment also rose by two percent in that same quarter as well.

The largest growth, according to the report, came in the area of air travel, which increased by 29.8 percent in the third quarter alone, spurred on by a sharp decrease in the price of air fare. Spending on accommodations also increased in the same quarter, raising 9.5 percent. That marked the third straight quarter that that segment of the travel industry saw an increase in spending too.

All of this bodes well for 2011 of course, when the travel industry is expected to continue to bounce back nicely. Forecasters are predicting that more Americans will take a real vacation this year and international arrivals are also expected to continue to rise steadily.

So, have you curtailed your travel spending due to the economy over the past few years? Are you planning a trip for 2011? What destinations are back on your list now that the economy is showing signs of life again?

Australia floods leave tourist industry in peril

Brisbane, brisbane, Australia, australia
The terrible floods in Queensland, Australia, have destroyed thousands of homes, done billions of dollars of damage, and have left at least a dozen people dead. Queensland is a major coal exporter, and with the rising waters hampering shipments and flooding mines, world coal prices have risen. A major consumer of Queensland coal are Asian steel mills, which are already feeling the pinch. This has led to a rise in steel prices. That’s a double dose of bad news for the economic recovery.

Another Queensland industry has also been hard hit–tourism. The tourists have fled along with the residents, but it’s the long-term effects that are more harmful. If rising coal and steel prices hurt the economic recovery, that’s bound to hurt the tourism industry pretty much everywhere. Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, is the center for Australia’s Gold Coast, a major draw for Australia’s $32 billion tourist industry. Floods are damaging popular beaches and will require costly repairs. Coastal and riverside hotels and shops are being destroyed. The Brisbane Times reports that toxic materials washed into the sea could have an effect on delicate coral reefs and fish populations. With snorkeling and scuba diving such popular activities on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, this could do long-term damage to tourism.

Meanwhile, airlines are worried about how this will affect them. Virgin Blue has already seen its shares drop by 3.4 percent today because investors fear there will be a drop in bookings. Qantas shares also dipped slightly. Airlines are issuing fee waivers for passengers who want to change their flights to, from, or through Brisbane.

It looks like Queensland residents will suffer from the flood long after the waters recede.

[Photo of Brisbane sunset courtesy user t i m m a y via Gadling’s flickr pool]

Foreign visitor travel spending over $100 billion in United States

Visitors from outside the United StatesForeign visitor travel spending in the United States brought close to $12 billion with them in October, making it the tenth month in a row that spending by this group grew year over year. On average this year, total travel and tourism exports have increased $1.4 billion a month. People are visiting us again!

According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, travel– and tourism-related exports reached $11.9 billion in October 2010, an 18 percent ($1.8 billion) gain relative to October 2009. The money foreign visitors spent on fares surged $709 million to $2.8 billion for the month, an increase of 34 percent. Travel receipts (i.e., everything but flights, boats, etc.) amounted to $9.1 billion for October 2010, up 13 percent year over year.

For the first 10 months of 2010, international visitors spent $111.5 billion on travel to the United States and on travel-related goods and services once in the country, up 11 percent year over year. Meanwhile, Americans spent $85.5 billion abroad during this period, up 4 percent year over year.

[photo by law_keven via Flickr]