Tourism-related sales increase in third quarter

Total sales of tourism-related goods and services totaled $1.04 trillion in the third quarter, up 5.1% from the second quarter, according to the Commerce Dept.s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

The figures show direct tourism sales rose 16.8% in the third quarter, with much of the rise due to sharp increases in gasoline prices.

For the months of July, August and September, direct tourism sales, which are goods and services sold directly to visitors, totaled $596 billion.

Another $444.7 billion was rung up in indirect tourism sales, or goods and services used to produce what visitors buy.

The 16.8% difference between third- and second-quarter direct-tourism sales was due largely to higher gas prices, the BEA said.

Also contributing to the quarter-over-quarter increase were modest jumps in sales of travel- and tourism-related shopping; food services and drinking places; and traveler accommodations.

Reflecting a steady increase in air fares, consumers cut back on air travel in the third quarter, resulting in a 2.7% decrease in ticket sales.

The BEA figures show total tourism-related employment grew at 1.7% in the second quarter of 2005, the most recent quarter for which data are available, compared with 1.5% in the first quarter. Direct tourism-related employment in the second quarter grew 1.9%, with food and beverage services, traveler accommodations and recreation and entertainment leading the way.

Meanwhile, employment in air transportation services dropped by 0.5% during the period.

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