Travel by the Numbers

Summer is in full swing, with long, sunny days and no more school. For many of us, that means it’s time for a vacation trip. While you’re packing your bags, we’ve collected some travel facts you can muse on.

While most of us aren’t spending extravagantly on our individual trips, collectively, the amount of money involved might surprise you. In the US, we spent $683.1 billion on leisure travel last year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Another $307.2 billion was spent by business travelers. The travel industry supports 8.6 million jobs and generates $157.8 billion in tax revenue. So while you’re zipping along in a tour boat and sipping a mai tai, you can pat yourself on the back for helping to boost the economy.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s local businesses we’re supporting. A lot of us stay close to home in the gorgeous summertime, preferring to take our longer trips in the winter, when it’s gray and rainy. It’s not uncommon elsewhere to take more than one vacation, too, though perhaps for different reasons. The national average is 1.7 trips a year.

Most of us aren’t going to the Taj Mahal. The top vacation activity last year was visiting family, followed by shopping, visiting friends, fine dining, and rural sightseeing.

When it comes to vacations, our country’s “imports” of foreign visitors far exceed our “exports” of Americans going abroad. You could say we have an $87 billion travel trade surplus, with $246 billion in exports and $159 billion in imports.

Where do all these foreign visitors come from?

About half cross the border from Canada or Mexico and the other half come from overseas. The United Kingdom and Japan send us the most visitors, but they may be surpassed someday by China, India, and Australia, where the number of US visitors is growing at the fastest rate.

Vacation travel is about seeing beautiful places and collecting memorable experiences. But sometimes getting to your destination is less enjoyable, particularly as you battle the summer crowds.

If you get stuck on the freeway or jostled in the airport security line, put it in perspective. You’ll relax and have fun soon enough. And all the people who seem to be in your way are, like you, supporting a very important industry.

Happy Travels!