The U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries recently published its annual Year in Review report for 2009. Simply put, the global economic slowdown created the most difficult environment for the tourism industry since the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.
The United States welcomed 54.9 million international visitors in 2009, a decrease of 5 percent when compared to 2008.
Total international visitor spending in the United States ($121 billion) dropped precipitously in 2009, resulting in a record-setting yearly decline of nearly $21 billion (-15%).
Much of this decline was centralized in one market: the U.K. Visitor spending declines from this one market alone ($4.6 billion) surpassed the combined declines from Africa and the entire Asia and Pacific region.
The impact was not limited to international travel. In fact, the total spending (domestic and international) by the U.S. travel and tourism industries were $100 billion less than in 2008, by far the single largest contraction the industry has experienced.
The industry also lost nearly 400,000 industry-related jobs in 2009, essentially eliminating all employment gains since 2004.
In summary: 3.1 million fewer visitors; $21 billion decline in total travel and tourism-related exports; $100 billion decline in industry output, and 400,000 fewer jobs.
Within the report there is a summary of the changes over the last decade for travel to and within the U.S. in terms of international arrivals, travel and tourism exports, employment, output and prices.