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January 3, 2001

Commerce Department to Provide More Comprehensive Data
on Economic Clout of Travel and Tourism

Washington, D.C.-- The Commerce Department announced today that it has received $200,000 in U.S. Government funding to more accurately track the growing economic impact of travel and tourism on the U.S. economy.

"Tourism's contributions to American prosperity have not been fully appreciated due to a lack of comprehensive data and statistics," said Leslie R. Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tourism Industries at the U.S. Department of Commerce. "This funding will help jumpstart the federal government's ability to gauge and assist the services sector, which has emerged in the last decade as a dominant force in the U.S. economy."

At the local level, the data will allow communities, visitor bureaus, and entrepreneurs to better promote economic growth and investment in tourism-related projects. Additionally, this funding will enable the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to compensate a staff member and the necessary computer resources to provide a more timely and accurate update of the 1998 pilot program for the Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts. Data from satellite accounts correlates the purchases of tourism goods and services with the output of the tourism industries that produce them. Satellite accounts will allow travel and tourism growth to be more accurately measured and compared to other major industries, helping define the industry's contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).

"Funding for the satellite accounts for travel and tourism is also significant because it can serve as a leadership model for accountability in other elusive service sectors such as Entertainment, Education and Training, and Financial Services," Doggett added.

Travel and tourism is a key contributor to the growth of the services sector and the overall health of the U.S. economy. In the eight years of the Clinton Administration, tourism has generated $3.7 trillion dollars in expenditures, $622 billion dollars in state, local, and federal taxes, and $157 billion in trade surpluses. It has supported over 57.5 million jobs, with employment growing faster in the tourism sector than employment in the overall economy. Outpacing average growth of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), travel and tourism accounts for one-third of the trade surplus in the services sector.

The appropriation is an outgrowth of a 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism in which tourism interests called for more accurate measures of their contributions to the U.S. economy. Department of Commerce delivered a prototype of the accounts in July 1998, and President Clinton included requests for permanent funding of the program in budget proposals in 1998 and 1999, before finally receiving Appropriations approval December 15, 2000 for FY2001.

Authorization of funding is contained in Section 205 of H12260, as noted in the Congressional Record of December 15, 2000. Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has the responsibility for configuration of the accounts.





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