Home > News Release: U.S. Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts, First Quarter 2009
EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 8:30 A.M. EDT, TUESDAY, JUNE 16, 2009
BEA 09-26



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DECLINE IN TOURISM SPENDING CONTINUED IN FIRST QUARTER 2009

Real spending on travel and tourism declined at an annual rate of 5.9 percent in 2009:1 after decreasing 6.9 percent (revised) in 2008:4.  By comparison, real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 5.7 percent (preliminary) in 2009:1 after a decrease of 6.3 percent in 2008:4. 

Real spending declined despite a drop in travel and tourism prices of 10.9 percent in 2009:1 following a 16.5 percent (revised) decrease in 2008:4.  Leading the decline was passenger air transportation (28.7 percent) and traveler accommodations (15.1 percent).

  • Passenger air transportation continued to contract—decreasing 5.8 percent in 2009:1 after decreasing 8.7 percent (revised) in 2008:4.  Real spending on domestic flights declined for the sixth consecutive quarter; however, real spending on international flights rose 10.5 percent after an increase of 10.1 percent in the previous quarter.
  • Spending on accommodations posted a larger decrease—18.6 percent in 2009:1 after a 10.4 percent (revised) decrease in 2008:4.  The hotel industry continued to experience declining demand that was only partially offset by reduced room rates, leading to the decline in real spending.
  • Retail shopping by travelers showed a smaller decrease of 1.3 percent in 2009:1 compared to a decrease of 11.6 percent in 2008:4.
Chart 1. Real Tourism Spending

Transportation prices continued to decline in 2009:1—decreasing 23.0 percent after decreasing 36.1 percent (revised) in 2008:4.  Auto travelers and tourists continued to pay significantly less for gasoline at the pump and airfare continued to become more affordable.

Employment supported directly by tourist spending fell 6.6 percent in 2009:1 after a decrease of 3.9 percent in 2008:4 and 2.6 percent (revised) in 2008:3 (see box).  All the industries in travel and tourism reduced employment in 2009:1.  By comparison, overall U.S. employment decreased 5.9 percent in 2009:1 and decreased 3.7 percent (revised) in 2008:4.

Real Tourism Spending.  Spending on passenger air transportation declined for the fourth straight quarter, falling 5.8 percent in 2009:1 after an 8.7 percent decrease in 2008:4.  However, international air transportation increased by 10.5 percent for the quarter.  An 18.6 percent decline in traveler accommodations spending followed a decline of 10.4 percent (revised) in the previous quarter.
Chart 2. Quarterly Growth in Real Tourism Spending
Tourism Prices. Prices for passenger air transportation fell sharply in 2009:1—decreasing 28.7 percent following a decrease of 2.3 percent (revised) in 2008:4. Fuel costs continued to decrease allowing airlines to reduce fares to stimulate demand. Prices for accommodations decreased 15.1 percent after falling 7.0 percent in the previous quarter. Business travel continued to decline and those traveling were using lower cost lodging to reduce expenditures.
Chart 3. Quarterly Growth in Tourism Prices
Tourism Employment. Preliminary results for direct tourism employment fell 6.6 percent in 2009:1 and decreased 3.9 percent in 2008:4. Employment in air transportation services decreased 7.0 percent in 2009:1 after slipping 7.2 percent in 2008:4. Employment in accommodation services declined sharply 12.5 percent in 2009:1 from a 3.1 percent decrease in the prior quarter.
Chart 4. Quarterly Growth in Tourism Employment

Total Tourism-Related Spending.  The U.S. production that tourism spending generates not only includes the goods and services that are purchased directly, but also the inputs used to produce these goods and services—indirect tourism-related spending.  In 2009:1, total current-dollar tourism-related spending of $1.2 trillion consisted of $705.0 billion (57 percent) of direct tourism spending—goods and services sold directly to visitors—and $540.0 billion (43 percent) of indirect tourism-related spending—goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.

Total Tourism-Related Employment.  In 2009:1, total tourism-related employment of 8.3 million consisted of 5.7 million (69 percent) direct tourism jobs—jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors—and 2.6 million (31 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs—jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.

 

Definitions

Tourism spending.  Tourism spending comprises all goods and services purchased by tourists (defined as people who travel for any reason.).  In the following tables, tourism spending is referred to as direct tourism output.

Indirect tourism-related spending.  Indirect tourism-related spending comprises all output used as inputs in the process of producing direct tourism output (e.g., toiletries for hotel guests and the plastic used to produce souvenir key chains).

Total tourism-related spending.  Total tourism-related spending is the sum of direct tourism spending and indirect tourism-related spending.

Direct tourism employment.  Direct tourism employment comprises all jobs where the workers are engaged in the production of direct tourism output (such as hotel staff, airline pilots, and souvenir sellers).

Indirect tourism-related employment.  Indirect tourism-related employment comprises all jobs where the workers are engaged in the production of indirect tourism-related output (e.g., employees of companies that produce toiletries for hotel guests and the plastic used to produce souvenir key chains). 

Total tourism-related employment.  Total tourism-related employment is the sum of direct tourism employment and indirect tourism-related employment.

 

These estimates are from BEA’s Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts (TTSAs), which are supported by funding from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.  The current-price estimates of direct tourism output were derived from BEA’s annual TTSAs (revised in June 2009) and from current-price quarterly estimates of personal consumption expenditures from the NIPAs.  The real estimates of direct tourism output were developed using price indexes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and real quarterly estimates of personal consumption expenditures from the NIPAs.  The estimates of direct tourism employment were derived from the annual TTSAs (revised in June 2009) and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from BLS. 

Quarterly estimates are seasonally adjusted and expressed at annual rates, unless otherwise specified.  Percent changes are calculated from unrounded data and annualized.  Real estimates are in chained (2000) dollars.  Price indexes are chain-type measures.  Growth in overall U.S. employment is calculated using BLS Total nonfarm employment from Current Employment Statistics, www.bls.gov/ces/home.htm#data.

 

More timely statistics of employment in travel and tourism

With this release, BEA has improved the employment statistics in travel and tourism by removing a one-quarter lag in the availability of the statistics.  In prior releases, the employment statistics were based solely on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).  These statistics are of high quality and provide nearly complete coverage for the travel and tourism industry.  However, they are not available until five months after the end of the quarter.

BEA removed the one-quarter lag using employment series from BLS’s Current Employment Statistics (CES).  Five months after the quarter, CES-derived quarterly data will be replaced with QCEW-based data.

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Next release – Travel and Tourism estimates for second quarter 2009 will be released on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. EDT. 

BEA’s national, international, regional, and industry estimates; the Survey of Current Business; and BEA news releases are available without charge on BEA’s Web site at www.bea.gov.  By visiting the site, you can also subscribe to receive free e-mail summaries of BEA releases and announcements.