Press Release
Travel and Tourism Trade Development

2020 Travel and Tourism Industry Impact on the U.S. Economy

Total Economic Output Generated By Travel and Tourism in the United States Decreased 50% in 2020 From 2019

Decline in Travel and Tourism GDP Accounted for More Than Half of the Decline in U.S. GDP in 2020

Decline in Total Tourism-Related Employment Accounted for More Than a Third of the Total Employment Decline in the United States in 2020 

The National Travel and Tourism Office’s (NTTO) Travel & Tourism Satellite Account, produced annually by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, is the official U.S. Government estimate of the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The latest TTSA shows that in Calendar Year 2020:

Total economic output generated by travel and tourism fell $982.5 billion (-50.1%) from 2019 ($1.96 trillion) to 2020 ($978.4 billion). 

  • Among those sectors hardest hit, passenger air transportation services output declined by nearly $214.7 billion in 2020, followed by food services and drinking places/restaurants (down $131.1 billion), traveler accommodations (down $124.6 billion), and tourism-related shopping (down $123.5 billion).
  • These four sectors accounted for 60.4% of the decline in total tourism-related output in 2020.

Total tourism-related employment declined from 9.5 million in 2019 to 6.3 million in 2020. This decline of 3.2 million in total tourism-related employment accounted for 34.2% of the overall 9.3 million employment decline in the United States from 2019 to 2020. 

  •  Among those sectors hardest hit, employment supported by food services and drinking places declined by 972,000 in 2020, followed by traveler accommodations (down 685,000), air transportation services (down 338,000), and participant sports (down 262,000).
  • These four sectors accounted for 70.8% of the decline in total tourism-related employment in 2020.

Travel and tourism value added, or GDP, (in nominal terms, not inflation adjusted) declined from $624.7 billion (2.9% of GDP) in 2019 to $356.8 billion (a historic low of 1.7% of GDP) in 2020.This $267.9 billion decline in travel and tourism GDP accounted for more than half (56.0%) of the overall $478.8 billion decline in U.S. GDP from 2019 to 2020.

Domestic travel demand by resident households declined by 53.2% from 2019 to 2020. At the same time, domestic business travel demand declined by 40.9%; domestic government travel demand declined by 33.6%; and travel demand by nonresidents (international visitors in the United States) declined 82.4% — accounting for a fifth (20.7%) of the overall decline in total travel demand from 2019 to 2020.

Learn more on NTTO’s Travel and Tourism Satellite Account (TTSA) Program Page.

Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts (TTSAs) allow the United States to measure the relative size and importance of the travel and tourism industry, along with its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). Approved by the United Nations in March 2002 and endorsed by the U.N. Statistical Commission, TTSAs have become the international standard by which travel and tourism is measured. In fact, more than 50 countries around the world use travel and tourism satellite accounting. 

View BEA’s Travel and Tourism Satellite Account.

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