Just Out Today-Where Are Americans Spending Their Money?

Spending on tourism grew faster than the economy in the first quarter 2012 with an annual growth rate of 3.4%, compared to #GDP growth at 1.9%. Those areas dependent on tourism should continue to see better than average growth.  New Orleans is a good example of how cities have capitalized on tourism spending, shifting the driver of their economy away from oil to tourism. The change originated in the early 1980’s with the building of the required infrastructure: one of the largest convention centers in the US. New Orleans commercial real esate benefitted from the movement to heavily market the city as a destination tourist attraction for business meetings followed by fine dining and fun.  Hotels have adapted to the movement and now offer large ballrooms for meeting space, capitalizing on the trend away from national meetings toward regional gatherings.

Tourism Spending Growth Rate and GDP

Tourism Spending Growth Rate and GDP

In the chart above, tourism spending is shown by the blue column and gross domestic product (GDP) is the red column. The last blue column showing the rate of tourism spending depicts a decline for the 1st quarter 2012 from the 4th quarter 2011, but the growth rate is still higher than GDP, shown in the red column.

Real spending on travel and tourism increased at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after increasing 4.4 percent (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2011. By comparison, growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.9 percent (second estimate) in the first quarter after increasing 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter. The increase in real spending on tourism primarily reflected increases in traveler accommodations and in food services and drinking places.

In the first quarter of 2012, total current-dollar tourism-related spending was $1.4 trillion and consisted of $848.6 billion (59 percent) of direct tourism spending — goods and services sold directly to visitors — and $577.9 billion (41 percent) of indirect tourism-related spending — goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.

Total Tourism-Related Employment was 7.6 million in the first quarter of 2012 and consisted of 5.4 million (71 percent) direct tourism jobs — jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors — and 2.2 million (29 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs — jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.

Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis

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