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.

Travel and tourism markets on the 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?