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Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry
The United States leads the world in international travel and tourism exports such as accommodations, food services and drinking places, and air transportation.

SelectUSA Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry

Industry Overview

According to the National Travel and Tourism Office, the U.S. travel and tourism industry generated almost $1.9 trillion in economic output in 2019, supporting 9.2 million U.S. jobs. Travel and tourism exports accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. exports and 27 percent of all U.S. services exports. That same year, U.S. travel and tourism output represented 2.9 percent of gross domestic product. Expenditures by international visitors in the United States were $233.5 billion in 2019, with almost two-thirds of spending going towards personal expenditures such as health ($1.2 billion) and education ($44.0 billion). 

Industry Subsectors

In 2019, almost $14.1 billion of FDI was invested into the accommodations industry from around the world. The year before, foreign-owned businesses employed 44,000 workers in the accommodations industry of a total 2.05 million employees in December 2018. According to the latest figures for U.S. employment, there were 1.4 million employees in the accommodations industry in December 2020. There were also 68,375 establishments in the accommodations industry across the United States in 2017.

The most common occupations in the industry are maids and housekeeping cleaners and hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks. There were 473,010 mads and housekeeping cleaners employed in the accommodations industry in 2019, and their average annual wage was $26,540. For hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks, there were 251,050 people employed in the industry earning an average annual wage of $25,850.

Almost $44.7 billion was invested from around the world in the U.S. food services and drinking places industry in 2019, and foreign-owned businesses employed 614,400 people of a total employment of 12.0 million employees in this industry in 2018. According to the latest employment figures, there were 9.0 million people employed in the food services and drinking places industry in December 2020. In 2017, there were 657,792 establishments in the hospitality industry, which includes food services and drinking places.

The most common occupations in the food services and drinking places industry are cooks and food preparation workers, as well as food and beverage serving workers. In 2019, there were over 2.4 million cooks and food preparation workers, with over 1.9 million cooks and almost 500,000 food preparation workers. Cooks earned an average annual wage of $26,990, and food preparation workers earned an average annual wage of $24,930. For food and beverage serving workers, there were over 6.1 million people employed in 2019, of which 2.2 million were waiters and waitresses. All food and beverage serving workers in the industry earned an average annual wage of $24,610, and waiters and waitresses earned an average annual wage of $26,530.

There was $158 million in foreign direct investment into the U.S. air transportation industry in 2019, and foreign-owned businesses in the air transportation industry employed between 5,000 and 9,999 workers in 2018 out of a total employment of 497,800 in the industry. According to the latest employment figures, there were 391,700 employees in the air transportation industry in December 2020. As of 2017, there were 4,441 establishments in the air transportation industry.

The most common occupations in the air transportation industry are airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers; reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks; and aircraft mechanics and service technicians. In 2019, 74,310 people were employed as airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers in the air transportation industry, and these workers earned an average annual wage of $178,120. There were also 63,670 people employed as reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks in the industry in 2019, earning an average annual wage of $50,140. Finally, there were 38,690 aircraft mechanics and service technicians in the air transportation industry in 2019, and these workers earned an average annual wage of $81,630.
 

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Additional Information

Explore the impact of foreign direct investment on U.S. jobs, exports, and innovation in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry.

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Investor Guide

The Investor Guide is a high-level view of everything from taxes to immigration and workforce to business structures.

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SelectUSA Stats

SelectUSA has created several dashboards to help analyze key FDI data from a variety of sources.

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Industry Associations
A comprehensive list of associations in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.
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Incentives
Browse this state incentives database developed by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER).
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