Government study depicts industrys road to recovery

New government statistics add evidence that the travel and tourism industry is solidly on the road to recovery.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, sales of tourism-related goods and services totaled $960.7 billion in 2004, an increase of 6.7% over 2003.

The BEA reported that direct tourism sales (goods and services sold directly to visitors) amounted to $548.6 billion, while sales of goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase accounted for $412.1 billion.

The BEA noted that the growth in direct tourism sales was strong across all sectors, including accommodations (up 5.9%), passenger air transportation (up 6.9%) and dining establishments (9.7%).

Sales during fourth-quarter 2004 remained strong, according to the BEA. Hotel sales were up 10.1%, while restaurants saw a 9.1% increase in business. Air sales were down 2.1% compared with fourth-quarter 2003.

The BEA reported that total sales increased for the ninth consecutive quarter, growing 6.5% in fourth-quarter 2004.

The BEA figures also show that direct tourism-related employment increased for the third consecutive quarter, growing 0.8%, or 11,100 employees (seasonally adjusted at annual rates), in third-quarter 2004, the most recent quarter for which data is available.

The largest increases occurred in food and beverage services, traveler accommodations and recreation and entertainment, which posted job gains of 8,300; 3,800; and 1,400, respectively.

The largest decline occurred in air transportation services, where the number of jobs fell by 1,800, the BEA said.

The data was derived from the Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts, which gauge the economic impact of the tourism industry.

Funding from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration -- which is within in the Commerce Department -- supports the accounts.

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