A new report from Visa (Tourism Outlook: USA) shows that spending by international travelers in the US in the first six months of 2010 jumped 20% over 2009 levels.
2009 Visa spending by international visitors had dropped 12% over 2008, from $32.9 billion in 2008 to $28.9 billion in 2009.
The 20% jump from Jan 1-June 30, 2010 means that by the end of the year, 2010 spending could end up higher than 2008 levels, and may even breach pre-recession highs.
Visitors from Canada ($4.6 billion) and the UK ($1.2 billion) made the biggest contributions to inbound tourism spending in the first half of 2010, followed by Brazil ($835m), Mexico ($819m) and Japan ($787m).
The biggest year-on-year growth (H1 2010 compared to H1 2009) came from Chinese visitors (74%), followed by Brazil (73%) and Australia (44%).
A statewise breakup of H1 2010 inbound tourism spending shows that Florida was the biggest beneficiary ($2.4 billion), followed by New York ($1.6 billion) and California (also $1.6 billion).
The other seven states on the top ten list include Texas ($594m), Nevada ($558m), Hawaii ($504m), Arizona ($274m), Washington ($262m), Illinois ($201m) and Massachusetts ($197m).
But Florida, inspite of getting the biggest share of inbound tourism spending, also suffered huge losses due to the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast.
In May 2010, one month after the oil began leaking into the gulf, inbound tourism spending from international travelers to the Gulf Coast states was actually up year-over-year. But in between May and June 2010, the spending tanked by 42%.
Lodging took the biggest hit, with Visa cardholder spending on Gulf Coast lodging decreasing by 50% (a loss of $6 million) from May to June 2010.
Tourism Outlook: USA – Download (pdf)