BY Christopherson Business Travel |

Business and Inbound International Travel: What it means to the USA

What do you know about the economics of travel to and within the United States?  In a study conducted by Oxford Economics titled The Role of Business Travel in the U.S. Economic Recovery, this topic is summed up in two areas: 1) Business activity generated by the traveler, including all facets of corporate spending such as air travel, hotel stays, car rentals, taxi’s, and restaurants, and 2- The effect of business travel on the company performance and improved productivity. This can take on various forms including new sales, customer retention, and networking.

Direct spending on business travel by domestic and international travelers, including expenditures on meetings, events, and incentive programs (ME&I), totaled $259 billion in 2012.

  • ME&I travel accounted for $103 billion of all business travel spending.
  • U.S. residents logged 460 million person?trips* for business purposes in 2012, with 21% for meetings and events.
  • For every dollar invested in business travel, businesses benefit from an average of $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits (Oxford Economics).

*Person-trip defined as one person on a trip away from home overnight in paid accommodations or on a day or overnight trip to places 50 miles or more [one-way] away from home.

Inbound USA international travel facts and figures: 

In 2012, international traveler spending (export receipts) totaled $128.6 billion and travel spending abroad by Americans totaled $83.7 billion (travel import payments), creating a trade surplus of $45 billion in favor of the U.S.

  • The U.S. received 66.6 million inter­national arrivals in 2012. Of those, approximately 29.6 million were from overseas markets and 37 million were from Canada and Mexico.
  • The United States’ share of total international arrivals is 6.4% (down from 7.5% in 2000).
  • International travel spending directly supported about 1.1 million U.S. jobs and wages of $27.7 billion.
  • Each overseas traveler spends approximately $4,455 when they visit the U.S. and stay on average more than 18 nights.
  • Overseas arrivals represent 44% of all international arrivals, yet account for 78% of total international travel receipts.
  • Greatest challenges facing international visitors: burdensome visa process; unwelcoming entry experience.
  • Top leisure travel activities for overseas visitors: (1) shopping; (2) dining; (3) city sightseeing; (4) visiting historical places; and (5) amusement/theme parks

One more tidbit with regards to travel within and to the US:

In 2012 direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.3 billion a day, $97.7 million an hour, $1.6 million a minute, and $27,125 a second.

For more on this and other statistics regarding the economic impact of travel to and within the United States by the US Travel Association a nonprofit organization representing all components of the travel industry, visit

Source: US Travel Association. Used by permission.