Survey of Current Business
June 2018
Volume 98, Number 6

U.S. Travel and Tourism Satellite Account for 2015–2017

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The travel and tourism industry—as measured by the real output of goods and services sold directly to visitors—decelerated to 1.7 percent growth in 2017 after increasing 3.2 percent in 2016, according to the most recent statistics from the Travel and Tourism Satellite Account (TTSA) of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).1 In contrast, the broader economy, as measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), increased 2.3 percent in 2017 after increasing 1.5 percent in 2016. Revised statistics on travel and tourism reflect the incorporation of the annual update of the industry economic accounts, which was released on November 2, 2017.2

Highlights from the TTSA include the following:

  • Real output increased in 14 of 24 commodities in 2017. The largest contributors to the increase included traveler accommodations, international passenger air transportation services, and shopping.
  • Real output growth slowed to 1.7 percent in 2017 from 3.2 percent in 2016, reflecting downturns in gasoline and food and beverage services spending as well as decelerations in automotive rental and leasing and domestic passenger air transportation services.
  • Prices for tourism goods and services increased 1.3 percent in 2017 after decreasing 1.8 percent in 2016. The largest contributor to the increase in 2017 was gasoline, which increased 12.0 percent and contributed 1.03 percentage points to tourism goods and services price growth.

The TTSA is available on the BEA website; see the link “Data Availability.”

The remainder of this article includes a discussion of trends in travel and tourism output and prices, tourism value added, and employment.

 

Value added

A sector’s value added measures its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). In 2016 (the most recent year for which data are available), the travel and tourism industry’s share of GDP was 2.8 percent (table C). Travel and tourism accounted for a larger share of GDP than several other industries including broadcasting and telecommunications, utilities, mining, and educational services.

Table C. Travel and Tourism as a Share of Gross Domestic Product in 2008–2016
Year Billions of dollars Percent
Gross domestic
product (GDP)
Tourism value
added
Tourism value added
as a share of GDP
2008 14,719 391 2.66
2009 14,419 366 2.54
2010 14,964 377 2.52
2011 15,518 404 2.60
2012 16,155 422 2.61
2013 16,692 435 2.61
2014 17,428 453 2.60
2015 18,121 496 2.74
2016 18,624 517 2.78

Direct employment

Direct tourism employment refers to jobs that are directly related to visitor spending on goods and services. Airline pilots, hotel clerks, and travel agents are examples of such employees. Overall, direct employment declined 1.1 percent in 2017 after increasing 3.6 percent in 2016. The largest contributors to the decline were retail trade services excluding gasoline service stations, which lost 27,000 jobs in 2017, and air transportation services, which lost 21,000 jobs (chart 4 and table D).

Table D. Annual Growth, Contributions to Growth, and
Levels of Direct Employment by Tourism Industry in 2014–2017
Commodity Annual growth rates
(percent change from preceding period)
Contributions
(percentage points)
Direct employment
(thousands)
2014 2015 2016 2017 2014 2015 2016 2017 2014 2015 2016 2017
All tourism industries 2.2 4.0 3.6 −1.1 2.18 3.98 3.58 −1.14 5174 5380 5573 5509
Traveler accommodations 2.7 2.3 1.7 2.1 0.71 0.61 0.44 0.53 1374 1405 1429 1459
Vacation Home Rentals −3.1 −5.3 −3.5 3.6 0.00 −0.01 0.00 0.00 8 7 7 7
Food services and drinking places 3.3 5.4 6.2 1.7 0.95 1.59 1.86 0.53 1530 1612 1712 1742
Transportation 1.8 4.7 3.8 −4.8 0.36 0.97 0.78 −1.00 1063 1113 1155 1099
Air transportation services 1.3 4.1 3.7 −4.5 0.12 0.35 0.32 −0.38 440 458 475 454
All other transportation-related industries 2.1 5.2 3.8 −5.1 0.25 0.62 0.47 −0.62 623 656 681 646
Rail transportation services 0.9 7.4 −1.4 2.0 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 10 11 11 11
Water transportation services 6.6 6.2 4.4 −6.1 0.04 0.04 0.03 −0.04 33 35 36 34
Interurban bus transportation −0.1 3.1 −2.8 2.4 0.00 0.01 −0.01 0.01 18 19 18 19
Interurban charter bus transportation 1.3 −0.2 −0.7 −0.3 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 13 13 13 13
Urban transit systems and other transportation 3.6 13.1 4.9 −12.8 0.03 0.10 0.04 −0.11 41 46 49 42
Taxi service 6.5 −6.5 0.0 5.3 0.05 −0.05 0.00 0.04 41 39 39 41
Scenic and sightseeing transportation services 3.9 2.9 3.7 −4.2 0.01 0.01 0.01 −0.01 16 16 17 16
Automotive equipment rental and leasing 3.9 5.7 2.7 −2.7 0.07 0.10 0.05 −0.05 95 100 103 100
Automotive repair services −9.4 5.1 4.3 −4.9 −0.10 0.05 0.04 −0.05 51 54 56 53
Parking lots and garages 5.5 10.2 −1.3 −1.3 0.02 0.03 0.00 0.00 17 19 19 19
Toll highways 1.6 4.4 3.5 −3.6 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 4 4 5 4
Travel arrangement and reservation services 1.6 3.5 6.0 −7.5 0.05 0.12 0.20 −0.26 176 182 193 179
Petroleum refineries 4.8 10.5 4.4 −7.2 0.01 0.02 0.01 −0.01 9 10 10 9
Gasoline service stations 3.5 8.8 4.7 −6.3 0.07 0.17 0.10 −0.13 99 108 113 106
Recreation, entertainment, and shopping 0.4 2.8 2.0 −4.7 0.08 0.54 0.37 −0.87 987 1014 1034 986
Recreation and entertainment −1.5 −0.2 0.0 −2.1 −0.15 −0.02 0.00 −0.19 515 513 513 503
Motion pictures and performing arts 20.6 14.1 2.5 −31.3 0.09 0.08 0.01 −0.18 28 32 33 23
Spectator sports 2.1 9.1 2.7 −16.2 0.02 0.10 0.03 −0.18 55 60 62 52
Participant sports −4.7 −4.5 −2.1 7.0 −0.20 −0.17 −0.08 0.24 201 192 188 201
Gambling −1.1 −1.0 0.0 −1.2 −0.04 −0.04 0.00 −0.04 175 174 174 171
All other recreation and entertainment −2.9 1.1 3.0 −2.6 −0.03 0.01 0.03 −0.03 55 56 58 56
Shopping 2.6 6.2 4.0 −7.3 0.23 0.56 0.37 −0.68 472 501 521 483
Industries producing nondurable PCE commodities, excluding petroleum refineries 2.2 6.9 5.1 −8.0 0.05 0.16 0.12 −0.19 120 128 135 124
Retail trade services, excluding gasoline service stations 2.7 5.9 3.6 −7.0 0.18 0.40 0.25 −0.49 352 373 386 359
All other industries 1.9 6.8 3.2 −8.0 0.08 0.28 0.14 −0.34 213 228 235 216
All other industries, excluding Wholesale trade and transportation services −1.7 3.2 1.0 −5.4 −0.02 0.04 0.01 −0.06 57 59 59 56
Wholesale trade and transportation services 3.2 8.0 4.0 −8.9 0.10 0.24 0.12 −0.28 157 169 176 160
PCE
Personal consumption expenditures

 

Total employment

Total tourism-related employment (the sum of direct and indirect jobs) decreased to 7.8 million jobs in 2017 from 8.0 million jobs in 2016. The 7.8 million jobs consisted of 5.5 million direct tourism jobs and 2.3 million indirect tourism jobs (chart 5). While direct tourism employment includes jobs that produce direct tourism output, such as airline pilots, indirect tourism employment is also generated in the businesses that supply goods and services to the tourism sector, such as refinery workers producing jet fuel. The most recent data indicate that for every 100 jobs supported directly by the travel and tourism industry, an additional 42 indirect tourism jobs are also required.

 

 


  1. All measures of travel and tourism activity not identified as being in “real,” inflation-adjusted terms are current-dollar estimates.
  2. For more information, see Kevin B. Barefoot, Teresa L. Gilmore, and Chelsea K. Nelson, “The 2017 Annual Update of the Industry Economic Accounts: Initial Statistics for the Second Quarter of 2017 and Revised Statistics for 2014–2016 and the First Quarter of 2017,” Survey of Current Business (December 2017).