Business Travel Makes the World Go ‘Round

$1.1 trillion in traveler spending supported 15.7 million jobs in 2018

When people fly to the United States for a conference, that is considered an export in economic terms—and an important one at that. New data from U.S. Travel Association, the advocacy arm of the travel industry, on the impact of business activity in 2018 shows that visitors crossing our international borders generated $256 billion in spending, a $69 billion surplus after the $186 billion we spend on international travel is subtracted.

Direct spending on business travel by domestic and international travelers hit $327.3 billion last year. Meetings, events and incentive programs were estimated at about a third of that number. When leisure travelers are added to the picture, total spending swells to $1.1 trillion. That translates into $2.5 trillion in economic output as the 15.7 million American jobs supported by the industry are empowered to spend and spread the wealth.

U.S. Travel estimates that each household would have to pay $1,340 more in taxes without the revenue generated by travel and tourism.

Here are a few more stats to consider how event professionals make the world a better, and richer, place.

2018 U.S. Travel Industry at a Glance

  • $1.1 trillion in traveler spending
  • $2.5 trillion economic output
  • 15.7 million American jobs

Business Travel (Direct)

  • Spending $327.3 billion
  • Taxes $52.5 billion
  • Jobs 2.6 million

General Business Travel

  • $191.4 billion
  • Taxes $ 31.2 billion
  • Jobs 1.5 million

Meetings, Events & Incentive Travel

  • Spending $135.9 billion
  • Taxes $22.4 billion
  • Jobs 1.1 million

Bottom Line

  • $3 billion/day: Direct spending by resident and international travelers in U.S.
  • $1,340: Amount each household would have to pay to make up for tax revenue from tourism
  • 1 out of 10: Number of U.S. jobs that depend on travel and tourism
  • 2.9 percent: Percentage of GDP contributed by travel and tourism
  • 49: States where travel is among top 10 job-creating industries

Learn more at ustravel.org.

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