Publications and Research

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



No longer a cottage industry, international travel and tourism is a significant contributor to economic growth and development, with worldwide growth in international tourist arrivals outpacing national income growth one out of every two over the past 30 years.2 For many developing countries, travel and tourism serves as the primary export industry. However, in terms of overall trade dollars, it is industrialized countries that are some of the largest beneficiaries of inbound international travel. Travel and tourism is America's largest service export and a major jobs engine. As international travel and tourism is forecast to grow significantly over the next five years, the U.S. economy stands to benefit significantly. Below we present some key elements describing the importance of this sector to the national economy. International Travel & Tourism is when people travel globally outside of their region and home country. This means a temporary movement of people from the resident place to another place for different reasons such as leisure, recreational, health, business or some other reason. Dr. Anastasia Xenias is Global Travel & Tourism Team Leader and Senior International Trade Specialist at the US Commercial Service of the International Trade Administration, Mr. Ron Erdmann is Deputy Director for Research at the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries of the International Trade Administration. The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) manages the Travel and Tourism Statistical System for the United States. The System provides national and local level data that tracks past performance, provides insights into the future, and offers key traveler characteristics data to guide research-based marketing campaigns. The Global Travel & Tourism Team promotes exports of American travel and tourism services through foreign publicity facilitation and business to business matchmaking programs. The analysis presented here utilizes official US economic data from the US Department of Commerce, however, the views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent an official position of the International Trade Administration, or the US Department of Commerce.


This paper was originally published as Vol. 1 No. 6 in the WCIB Occasional Paper Series.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.