Tourism Spending Rebounds in Q3

Real spending on travel and tourism increased at an annual rate of 6.4 percent in Q3 2009 after increasing 0.2 percent in Q2 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. By comparison, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.8 percent in Q3 2009, after decreasing 0.7 percent in Q2. Despite the rebound, real travel and tourism spending was still below its Q3 2007 peak. Travel and tourism prices increased 6.7 percent in Q3 after decreasing 3.7 percent in Q2. Transportation was the largest contributor to growth in travel and tourism spending in Q3.

Passenger air transportation spending accelerated — increasing 26.3 percent at an annual rate in Q3 after increasing 10.7 percent in Q2. This marked recovering business travel on both domestic and international routes.

Spending on accommodations turned up — increasing 17.0 percent in Q3 after decreasing 1.5 percent in Q2. The turnaround reflected increased occupancy rates (primarily leisure travelers) and declines in accommodations prices.

The largest contributor to price change this quarter was gasoline purchased by auto travelers, which spiked in Q3.

Prices for passenger air transportation reversed their downward trend, increasing 2.1 percent in Q3 after decreasing 29.8 percent in Q2. Accommodations prices continued to decline, decreasing 4.7 percent in Q3 after falling 6.8 percent in Q2.

Direct tourism-related employment fell 1.7 percent in Q3, compared to the 4.8 percent decline in Q2. By comparison, overall U.S. employment decreased 2.7 percent in Q3 and decreased 4.5 Q2. Almost all travel and tourism industries reduced employment. Only recreation and entertainment experienced growth, 0.8 percent in Q3.

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