Home > News Release: U.S. Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts, Fourth Quarter 2009
EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 8:30 A.M. EDT, THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2009
BEA 09-09



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U.S. Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts: Fourth Quarter 2008

CONTINUED DECLINE IN TOURISM SPENDING IN FOURTH QUARTER 2008

Current-dollar spending on travel and tourism (spending not adjusted for price changes) declined at an annual rate of 22.2 percent in 2008:4 after increasing 1.3 percent (revised) in 2008:3.  Travel and tourism prices turned down sharply, declining 16.0 percent in 2008:4 following an 11.6 percent (revised) increase in 2008:3.  As a result, real spending (spending adjusted for price changes) declined 7.2 percent in 2008:4 after decreasing 9.2 percent (revised) in 2008:3.  For the year 2008, real travel and tourism spending decreased 0.4 percent, the first yearly decline since 2001.

  • Passenger air transportation continued to contract—decreasing 13.0 percent in 2008:4 after decreasing 20.0 percent (revised) in 2008:3.  Real spending on domestic flights declined for the fifth consecutive quarter; however, real spending on international flights rose a modest 1.0 percent after a sharp decline of 35.4 percent in the previous quarter.
  • Spending on accommodations posted a larger decrease—10.1 percent in 2008:4 after a 3.1 percent (revised) decrease in 2008:3.  The hotel industry continued to experience declines in demand as business travel waned and individuals shifted their stays to budget accommodations.
  • Retail shopping by travelers also fell further, decreasing 11.6 percent in 2008:4 after decreasing 6.9 percent in 2008:3.
Chart 1. Real Tourism Spending

Transportation prices plummeted in 2008:4—decreasing 35.4 percent after increasing 21.0 percent (revised).  Auto travelers and tourists paid significantly less for gasoline at the pump.  For the year 2008, prices increased 1.7 percent after increasing 3.6 percent in 2007.

Employment supported directly by tourist spending fell 2.4 percent in 2008:3 (the most recent period for which data are available)1.  The decline remained widespread.  In 2008:2, employment fell by 1.2 percent.  By comparison, overall U.S. employment decreased 1.5 percent in 2008:3 and decreased 1.3 percent (revised) in 2008:2.

Real Tourism Spending.  Spending on passenger air transportation declined for the third straight quarter, falling 13.0 percent in 2008:4 after a 20.0 percent decrease in 2008:3.  However, international air transportation increased by 1.0 percent for the quarter.  A 10.1 percent decline in accommodations spending followed a decline of 3.1 percent (revised) in the previous quarter.
Chart 2. Quarterly Growth in Real Tourism Spending
Tourism Prices.  Prices for passenger air transportation fell for the first time in six quarters—decreasing 2.6 percent in 2008:4 after increasing 13.8 percent (revised) in 2008:3.  Fuel costs decreased significantly in the quarter, allowing airlines to reduce fuel surcharges.  Prices for accommodations decreased 7.0 percent after climbing 5.0 percent.  Occupancy rates declined which put downward pressure on the prices charged for rooms.
Chart 3. Quarterly Growth in Tourism Prices
Tourism Employment.  Direct tourism employment fell for the second consecutive quarter in 2008:3.  Employment in air transportation services decreased 6.2 percent in 2008:3 after slipping 1.5 percent (revised) in 2008:2.  Employment in accommodation services fell 3.0 percent.
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 2008:4, total current-dollar tourism-related spending of $1.3 trillion consisted of $749.0 billion (57 percent) of direct tourism spending—goods and services sold directly to visitors—and $575.4 billion (43 percent) of indirect tourism-related spending—goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.

Total Tourism-Related Employment.  In 2008:3, total tourism-related employment of 8.6 million consisted of 5.9 million (69 percent) direct tourism jobs—jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors—and 2.7 million (31 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs—jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.

1 Employment statistics are based on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Employment statistics for 2008:4 will be available in BEA’s Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts’ June 16, 2009 press release.


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 2008) 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 2008) and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from BLS.  Employment data are available five to six months after the end of the reference quarter.

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.

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Next release – Travel and Tourism estimates for first quarter 2009 will be released on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. EDT. 

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