The American tourism industry is thriving, International and domestic travel is currently contribution over $1.1 trillion to the United States GDP every year. When looking at the annual travel split of domestic and international travel, Americans domestically traveling within the country last year made up the lion's share, totaling 2.29 Billion, a 2% increase from the previous year. Following past US tourism trends, the volume of Americans outbound traveling internationally was of course much less, amounting to 79.6 Million, which was a 3.5% increase from the previous year.
Leisure based travel accounts for 73.8% of all tourism in America, leaving 26.2% for business and other reasons. Overall the tourism expenditure accounts for $1,089 Billion a year, and the industry provides a direct source of employment for 5.29 million jobs.
RELATED: 2022 Tourism Trends & Outlook
US Citizen domestic tourism: Americans take 2.29 Billion domestic trips each year.
US Citizen outbound tourism: Americans take 93.0 Million international outbound trips each year.
International Inbound Tourism: Annually, there are currently 79.6 Million international visitors to the US.
$1,089 Billion: Yearly American tourism expenditure ($932.7b domestic / $156.3b international)
Expenditure sources: $267.7B on food services, $232.2B on lodging, $200.4B on public transport, $166.5B on auto transportation, $112.6B on recreation, $109.6B on retail.
15.7 Million American jobs were supported by travel in 2018.
By 2028, yearly U.S. tourism is estimated to hit the $2.4 trillion mark.
Days/yr. traveled by age group: Gen Z (29 days), Millennials (35 days), Gen X (26 days) and Baby Boomers (27 days).
Top 5 inbound countries: Mexico (19.1m), Canada (12.3m), UK (4.9), Japan (3.4), China (2.9)
Top 5 outbound by continent: Europe (17.7m), Caribbean (8.7m), Asia (6.2m), South America (2.1m), Central America (3.2m)
Top US cities visited: New York (9.8m), Miami (5.38m), LA (4.98m), Orlando (4.47m), San Francisco (3.57m), Vegas (3.33m)
Business vs. leisure: U.S. travelers took 466.2 million domestic trips for business (26.2%), and 1,779.7 million for leisure (73.8%)
US domestic travel increased by +2% YTD in 2019 with Americans taking 2.29 Billion domestic trips.
Domestic leisure travel increased 1.9% in 2019 to 1.9 billion.
80% of all US domestic trips were for leisure travel in 2019.
Domestic business travel in 2019 accounted for 464 million trips.
US Citizen outbound tourism: Americans take 93.0 Million international outbound trips each year. (+6.3% YTD Change)
International Inbound Tourism: Annually, there are currently 79.6 Million international visitors to the US. (+3.5% YTD Change)
Top 5 inbound countries: Mexico (19.1m), Canada (12.3m), UK (4.9), Japan (3.4), China (2.9).
Top 5 outbound by continent: Europe (17.7m), Caribbean (8.7m), Asia (6.2m), South America (2.1m), Central America (3.2m).
Top US cities visited: New York (9.8m), Miami (5.38m), LA (4.98m), Orlando (4.47m), San Francisco (3.57m), Vegas (3.33m).
Each year, 35% of American families plan vacations 50 miles or more from home.
In a Travel Leaders Group survey, 24% of Americans stated they plan to travel to Europe.
22% of American vacations are via road trips.
USA’s top 5 road trip routes: #1 Las Vegas – National Parks, #2 Northern California - Southern Oregon Coast, #3 Northern New England, #4 Blue Ridge Parkway #5 Black Hills.
The lion’s share of the United States tourism is from its own citizen’s domestic travel, with over 2.29 billion Americans taking trips within the country. This saw a +2% year to date increase, which is enormous considering that domestic travel spend was worth $932.7 Billion.
As you can see from the US outbound travel statistics above, the number of Americans traveling out of the country is remarkably low compared to domestic travel. According to Trade.gov, outbound tourism hit 93 Million last year and saw a sizable +6.3% year to date increase, showing more Americans are willing to take an outbound trip and travel out the country.
The outbound travel expenditure of these 93 million people was worth $156.3 Billion to America’s tourism industry, so 6.3% is a very significant outbound tourism statistic! The hottest US outbound destinations were Europe, Caribbean, Asia, South America, and Central America.
The US inbound tourism statistics also paint a fascinating picture of America’s continued tourism industry growth, with visitors flocking from Mexico, Canada, UK, Japan, and China. International visitors totaled 79.6 Million with a 3.5% year to date increase, with the top US vacation destinations being cities such as New York, Miami, LA, Orlando, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.
American’s spent around $930 billion USD on domestic travel in 2018.
In 2017 the amount spent on summer vacations was around $101.1 billion USD, up from $89.9 billion in 2016.
$1.1 Trillion / $1,089 Billion: Yearly U.S. travel and tourism expenditure ($932.7b domestic / $156.3b international).
U.S. leisure spend totalled $761.7 billion in 2018 from domestic and international travellers.
U.S. business sped totalled $327 billion in 2018, with $136 Billion from travellers attending conventions or meetings.
Expenditure Sources: $267.7B on food services, $232.2B on lodging, $200.4B on public transport, $166.5B on auto transportation, $112.6B on recreation, $109.6B on retail.
Behind nightlife/dining, travel was voted America’s most popular choice for spending disposable income at 36%.
$101.1 Billion is spent every year in America on summer vacations alone.
The average American spends $6,080 on international trips.
Inbound overseas tourists stay an average of 18 nights and spend $4,200 while in America.
Overseas travellers account for 84% of international tourist spend, despite being half of all international arrivals.
Canadian tourists are the biggest spenders with £22.2 billion in the U.S. every year.
New York brings in $16.1 Billion a year from international visitors.
If you’re wondering how much Americans spend on travel each year, it was huge; International and domestic travelers spent $1.1 Trillion US dollars ($1,089 Billion). Americans spending through domestic travel increased by a massive +5.8% year to date, whereas international tourism spends only saw a 0.3% bump from the previous year. To break this down, this sort of spending would support 8.9M jobs, which in turn would generate $171 Billion in tax and $268 Billion in payroll.
Out of the $1.1 Trillion spending, leisure travelers from both international and domestic spent $762 Billion in 2018, which was a +6.1% increase from the previous year. When looking at business travel spend, it had risen +2.4% to $327 Billion, with 41.5% coming from
What are American tourists spending this $1.1 Trillion on? According to the latest US travel spending statistics, food services such as restaurants, bars, and grocery stores were the most popular spending category at 26.7%. This was followed by 23.1% on lodging, 20.0% on public transport, 16.6% on auto transportation, 11.2% on recreation, and 10.9% on retail.
Furthermore, this $1.1 Trillion spending isn’t the only financial impact of the tourists. When you look at the inputs used to supply or produce the goods travelers desire, and take into account the spend of the employees of travel businesses – there is a considerable multiplier of the financial impact to the US economy, estimated to be a total of $2.5 Trillion.
The travel industry accounts for 7.1% of America’s private employment.
15.7 Million American jobs were supported by travel in 2018.
8.92 Million American travel-related jobs were supported by tourism in 2018 (7.73M domestic / 1.19M international)
$1 Million in travel revenue directly produces eight jobs with the industry.
1 in 10 jobs in the U.S. depend on the travel industry (Excluding farming).
$267.9 Billion in payroll is generated yearly by U.S. travel and tourism ($234.6 Billion domestic / $33.3 Billion international).
$170.9 Billion in tax revenue is generated yearly by U.S. travel and tourism ($147.3 Billion domestic / $23.6 Billion international).
A massive $117.4 billion of the $170.9b in tax revenue was spent on leisure travel, $53.5b on business.
International and domestic business travel generated $327.3 billion in 2018 through direct spending.
In 2018, U.S. residents recorded 463.6M trips for business (38% being events and meetings).
The tourism industry is vital to the US economy, so much so that it accounts for 7.1% of the countries private employment. Overall, 15.7 Million American jobs were supported by the tourism industry last year, making one in eight non-farm jobs dependent on it in some way, direct and indirectly. The trend is on the up, the 15.7 Million American jobs in the travel industry had a +1.3% increase from the previous year.
Jobs, where workers are supplying goods or services directly to visitors, would be classed as ‘direct’ - this supported 8.9 million U.S. travel-specific jobs. The remaining 6.8 Million jobs were classed as indirect, these would include areas whereby workers created goods or services which helped produce the goods or services (sold or used by the 8.9M direct jobs).
The travel industry is known for being extremely labor intensive, its upwards trends have the power to develop new career opportunities much fast than any other niche. If you exclude the farming industry, one in ten jobs would be dependent on the travel industry – as an example, one in five non-farming industry jobs would be created from $1 million sales, but the same value in the travel industry would create one in eight.
42% of Americans own a passport, up from 27% 10 years ago.
Days a year traveling by age: Millennials (35 days), Gen Z (29 days), Baby Boomers (27 days), and Gen X (26 days).
Millennials: 62% of parents travel with kids under five.
Millennials: 58% prefer traveling with friends, 49% book last-minute vacations.
Millennials: 58% want to solo travel, 26% already have.
Solo Travel Women: Take 3 more trips a year and are the most likely to travel alone.
Solo Travel: 43% take over three trips a year.
Solo Travel: 50% have a college or university diploma/degree.
Family: 4 out of 10 plan a trip with a family each year.
Family: 80% take summertime trips to travel with family.
Family: 42% opt for spring break vacations.
Baby Boomers: Aim to take 4+ leisure vacations a year.
Baby Boomers: 30% opt for a cruise as their vacation choice.
When analyzing the latest US outbound travel statistics by age, it was clear that millennials are the group willing to travel for the most extended period at 35 days a year, while generation X vacationed an average of 26 days.
Millennial Americans that are without children are now less of the typical ‘tourist’ and more of the ‘experience’ generation. Most of their booking habits are focused on exploring cultures, booking retreats, or activities rather than visiting theme parks and tourist trap areas. Their freedom and spontaneity let almost half of them book last-minute vacations, with or without friends as, to them, solo travel means cultural growth and meeting new people.
These travel age statistics also show us that half of the solo travelers take up to 3 more trips a year, have a college or university degree, and American solo travel is more prominent in women. What percentage of Americans own a passport? The myth was only one in ten do which appears in many blogs across the web, but now the Census and State department confirm that over 42% of Americans own a passport.
One travel by age group statistic shows almost one in three baby boomers opt for a cruise as their vacation and aim to take at least 4 trips per year. When it comes to families, the majority go during summer break (80%), and only 4 in 10 plan trips with their family. However, millennial families are far more likely to travel with younger children, at 62%.
Business/Leisure: U.S. travellers took 466.2 million domestic trips for business (26.2%), and 1,779.7 million for leisure (73.8%).
Family: 95% prioritized their family to be happy and entertained.
Family: 89% prioritized vacation deals and value.
Family: 85% needed planning around school holidays.
Family: 85% wanted outdoor activities for their family.
Gen Z: 55% travelled to increase their knowledge and experience.
Gen Z: 40% travelled to avoid stress and relax.
Millennials: 43% want to find themselves.
Millennials: 23% want to meet new people.
57% of U.S. travellers would choose a free heritage vacation over alcohol for a year.
56% of global international travellers agree it taught them life skills.
51% want to escape normal life and recharge mentally.
42% take trips to visit friends and family.
35% are travelling to experience local delicacies.
Top bucket list vacations are volunteering trips (39%), food travel adventure (38%), mystery journey (38%), ancestry/heritage trip (36%), and sabbatical (36%).
59% of solo travellers stated the reason they went alone is to see the world without waiting for others.
Why do Americans travel? When looking at the data from several survey sources, it was clear that the gender and age of respondents had little impact on the three most important factors.
The most important reasons why Americans travel were:
Being with friends and family
Fun experiences (did index higher in younger generations)
Relaxing and unwinding
In terms of gender-based travel reasons, men indexed higher than women overall for exploring the great outdoors or outdoor activities that fall into that category. Generation Z, Millennials, or general age groups from 18-35 had higher responses around wanting to travel for music events or festivals than people aged 35 and over.
The most important trend we’ve noticed from reviewing multiple studies around American’s desires for travel is that younger generations are factoring in ‘experience tourism,’ this was very common in their responses. Experience tourism can be defined by people wanting to book activities or retreats, meet new people and ‘find themselves’. This is popular among solo travellers, like a cultural trip to Thailand for a detox retreat rather than visiting a traditional tourist attraction like a theme park.
Americans over 35 were keen on finding a vacation where food and drink was priority. Visiting a town or city that had cultural foodie scenes or breweries were very trendy.
Top 5 culture activities: #1) 65% visit history/art museums, #2) 59% visit aquariums, #3) 56% visit science museums, #4) 55% visit theme parks, #5) 55% visit zoos
73% of families take their children to a theme park, 34% aim for a world famous one.
Overseas visitors top 5 activities: #1) 54% Shopping, #2) 49% visit historical/cultural sights, #3) 49% Restaurants, #4) 46% Monuments / National Parks, #5) 46% Sightseeing tours.
Trending: 89% increase in sunset cruise excursions trips since last year.
Trending: 64% increase in snorkelling activities since last year.
Trending: 55% increase in sailing trips since last year.
Trending: 49% increase in kayaking and canoeing experiences since last year.
33% of visitors will get spa or beauty treatments while on vacation.
15% of travellers book mindfulness or meditation retreats.
One of the reasons Americans do not travel abroad that much is that there is so much to offer in their own country. There is a wealth of cultural activities such as art galleries, museums that index high on the popular activities list, not to mention the volume of theme parks, zoos, and aquariums across the country.
Families want to book all-inclusive trips where everything is taken care of, and they can focus on shopping or taking their children sightseeing. An overwhelming volume of people wanted to book a cruise in the future, which pairs well with relaxing is one of the most popular reasons for travel data above. Cruises were particularly popular in respondents over the age of 45, as well as self-guided tours, whereas group tours were one of the least popular options for booking.
Even though sporting related activities are trending up, going to a physical sporting event was one of the least popular reasons Americans book travel, with most wanting to support their team… from home.
65% of hotels are booked on the smartphone the same day as it was researched.
79% of Americans researching trips will eventually book on their smartphone via app or online.
90% of U.S. travellers use apps at their destination to make life easy.
#1 factor in Americans booking travel is price, but reviews and amenities are close runners up.
Americans aged 18-24 classed reviews as the second most crucial factor in the booking.
Overall, travel is most commonly booked between 1 to 3 months in advance.
Men are more likely to last-minute book their trips 2 to 4 weeks out.
Excluding price as the main factor for Americans booking travel, amenities, and reviews were the most popular choices. So when comparing hotels, resorts or cruises of similar price, these are the factors that will sway the booking decision.
Popular amenities people look for when booking hotels are free breakfasts, pool access, fitness centers, and on-site restaurants. Public transportation was the least influential factor for people considering amenities when booking; this increased with ride-share options.
Only 11% of travellers book trips 6 months out; the most standard booking periods were for trips within 1 to 3 months.
Demographics wise, travelers without children would be the target market for last-minute booking, the no strings attached lifestyle leaves their schedules open. This makes them the ideal target for using last-minute deals to sign them up to hotel or travel loyalty programs.