U.S. Leisure Travel Statistics

U.S. Leisure Travel Statistics
June 2015
Category: Retail

Summer perceptually marks the beginning of vacation season. Whether traveling to visit relatives, taking shopping trips, or visiting favorite beaches, summer vacations are the highlight of the year for most people, but, have you ever stopped to think how much your vacation fun supports the U.S. economy?
According to information released by the U.S. Travel Association, last year direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $644.9 billion and generated $96.6 billion in tax revenue. Approximately 5.7 million jobs in the United States are supported by leisure travel. Leisure and business travel combined account for $2.1 trillion in economic output by domestic and international visitors ($927.9 billion in direct expenses and $1.2 trillion in indirect expenses) which means that approximately 2.7% of the national GDP is from travel.
The travel industry is among the top ten industries in 49 of the U.S. states and Washington DC that generate employment. There were 15 million jobs in the U.S. in 2014 that were supported by travel expenditures. American workers directly employed in the travel industry shared $221.7 billion in wages.
A recent study released on the travel industry in Pennsylvania revealed that the direct sales of the travel and tourism industry totaled $39.2 billion in 2013. Traveler spending indirectly generated an estimated $68.4 billion in total economic activity throughout all industries in the state during that same time period. There were approximately 192.9 million domestic and international travelers to Pennsylvania in 2013 which helped to support the 480,000 travel and tourism related jobs (6.5% of the state's total employment). Pennsylvania's travel and tourism industry in 2013 made up $15.3 billion of the state's GDP (a 4.4% increase over 2012). Spending increases were strongest in the food and beverage, and recreation sectors. 2013 was the fourth straight year for growth in Pennsylvania's travel and tourism sector.
Pennsylvania is broken down into 11 travel regions. The following is a list of those regions and percentage of total traveler spending per region:
  • Philadelphia and the Countryside - 22.9%
  • Lehigh Valley - 4.9%
  • PA Great Lakes Region - 4.2%
  • Pittsburgh and the Countryside - 19.5%
  • Laurel Highlands - 4.6%
  • Pennsylvania Wilds - 4.4%
  • Pocono Mountains - 7.6%
  • Upstate PA - 5.6%
  • Valleys of the Susquehanna - 1.6%
  • Dutch Country Roads - 20.1%
  • The Alleghenies - 4.8% 
The Central Pennsylvania counties are all apart of the "Dutch Country Roads" travel region in Pennsylvania which is made up of the following nine counties: Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York Counties. This region is the second highest among the eleven regions for traveler spending (approximately $7.8 billion in 2013). This region has the highest proportion of traveler spending on shopping and has the second highest number of travel-supported jobs.
The following graph shows the total tourism industry spending by county in the Dutch Country Roads region in 2005, 2009, and 2013. The numbers in the graph are represented in millions of dollars.
The following map image displays total yearly sales in the Accommodation and Food Services sectors throughout Central Pennsylvania (the Dutch Country Roads travel region) by zip code. The lighter colors represent a lower amount of sales while darker colors represent higher volumes of sales. Sales in the map are represented in millions of dollars. KEY: Tan - Below $5 million; Light Green - $5 million to $20 million; Dark Green - $20 million to $40 million; Yellow - $40 million to $60 million; Red - Over $60 million.
So now that we know how many travel dollars are coming into Central Pennsylvania, let's find out how much Central Pennsylvania residents are spending on trips. Here are some spending and behavior facts about the Central Pennsylvania population:
  • The Central Pennsylvania population spent an estimated $1.7 billion in total travel expenses in the past 12 months. Lancaster Countians spent the most (approximately $381.4 million), followed by York Countians ($329.8 million) and Berks Countians ($291.3 million).
  • Total lodging expenses on trips taken by Central Pennsylvania residents summed up to just under $400 million
  • Total expenses for airline fares for Central Pennsylvanians was $411.4 million
  • Over 620,000 Central Pennsylvania residents own a valid passport (approximately 26.3% of the total population)
  • 10.6% of Central Pennsylvania residents are members of hotel rewards programs, while 11.4% are members of frequent flyer programs
  • 940,000 (39.8% of the population) of Central Pennsylvanians have taken at least one domestic trip in the past twelve months
  • The Lancaster zip code 17601 ranks the highest in Central Pennsylvania in most of the travel spending categories. This zip code's population have spent the following: Lodging on Trips - $12.0 million; Food & Drinks on Trips - $12.1 million; Entertainment on Trips - $4.6 million; Airline Fares - $12.7 million
  • The Lancaster zip code 17601 ranks the highest in Central Pennsylvania for the most domestic travelers in the past twelve months (23,978), closely followed by the Lancaster, 17603 zip code (23,252) and Hanover, 17331 (21,037) 
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