Image/Video Credit: Raba Aleryani.

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Tourism in the United States (2014)

The tourism industry in the United States (U.S.) is a critical sector of the economy. In fact, according the U.S. Travel Association, international tourism and travel account for 2.7% of the U.S.’ gross domestic product. This Silk will aim to shed light on this industry by exploring tourism indicators for the 2014 year. This Silk will not provide a broad overview; rather, it will provide a concise analysis by focusing on five different indicators.

Tourism Revenues 

Tourism Revenues (2009-2014)| in current $US

Source: Statista 

According to a U.S. Industry Research Report released by International Business Information Systems World (IBIS World), U.S. international tourism revenues have increased steadily since 2009. In 2014, revenues generated from tourism reached an all-time high: $960 billion. Additionally, according to the U.S. Travel Association, tourists’ travel expenditures supported over 15 million jobs in 2014—making tourism among the top ten industries for employment in the U.S. This prompts an important question: which countries represent the leading international markets for these tourism revenues?

Top Countries that Supported Tourism 

Data gathered from the International Trade Administration shows that nearly 74 million tourists, or non-resident persons, arrived in the U.S. in 2014. As expected, an overwhelming majority of those tourists arrive from neighboring countries—including Canada and Mexico, which are crucial markets for U.S. tourism. European countries, which encompass 8 of the top 20-tourist generating countries, are also vital contributors. In addition, over the years China has become an increasingly high-growth market. Thus it is no wonder that China, along with Colombia, India, Brazil, and Sweden, are forecasted to become major international markets for tourism by 2019.

Tourist Arrivals: In Numbers

Total Number of Non-Resident Arrivals (2014)

Beyond these broad observations regarding the tourism industry, lay statistics that provide an insight into the state of the tourism sector. As the above figure shows, the total number of non-resident arrivals fluctuates from month-to-month. As anticipated most tourists come to the U.S. during the summer—specifically July and August. Interestingly, the least number of arrivals occur in February, following the winter holidays.

Total International Arrivals (Trends:1999-2014)

As demonstrated by the figure above, total international arrivals have increased between 1999-2014. The year 2014 marks the highest number of tourist arrivals yet. Fluctuations in overall arrivals can be observed in two points: 2001, following the attacks of September 11 and 2008, following the Great Economic recession. In both of those cases, the total number of international arrivals decreased for 1-3 years before picking up again.

Incentives for Tourism in the United States 

Purpose of Travel for Non-Resident Arrivals (2014)

                                                                                                                                          Source: International Trade Administration

Understanding tourists’ arrival patterns to the U.S. prompts us to question why they visit the U.S. in the first place. The above statistic is based on the International Trade Administration’s report on the “Top-20 Business and Pleasure Travelers,” which includes countries such as Argentina, Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. As the pie graph demonstrates, the majority of tourists from these countries visit the U.S. for leisure and only 13.7% come for business.

Top Entry Ports & the Most Visited Cities

Rank of Top Ports of Entry for Non-Resident Arrivals (2014) 

If the majority of tourists in the U.S. come for pleasure, where do they go? As indicated by the interactive map above, the cities of New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles are ranked as the three top ports for non-resident arrivals. According to data gathered form the International Trade Administration, these three cities are also the most popular cities for international tourists to visit. 

What the Future Holds

Image Credit: Raba Aleryani.

The year 2014 marked an auspicious period for tourism. Evidently, tourism will continue to play an important role in the U.S.’ economy. Today, one out of nine jobs in the U.S. depend on both travel and tourism. In 2014 alone, domestic and international tourism generated $2.1 trillion in economic output—signaling a promising future for the tourism industry.


The majority of data used in this Silk is from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries at the International Trade Administration. For more information, please visit their website.

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