Despite Economy, U.S. Tourism Strong, AH&LA Study Suggests

In spite of the nation's lackluster economy, the U.S. lodging industry has recorded its best year ever, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), which released today the results of its annual Lodging Industry Profile. According to the study, American lodgers posted $28 billion in pre-tax profits in 2007 and $139.4 billion in sales, up from $26.6 billion and $133.4 billion, respectively, in 2006.

"The positive numbers lead us to believe that despite the country's fluctuating economy, interest from both U.S. and international travelers has and will continue to translate into real dollars supporting a robust tourism product," AH&LA President and CEO Joseph A. McInerney, CHA, said in a statement. "Sizable increases on these fronts, which define our success, indicate the tourism industry remains a formidable competitor in the face of economic recession, and will continue to thrive in its place as the third-largest retail industry in the U.S."

AH&LA partially credits the lodging industry's strong performance to a record-setting 56 million international visitors who came to the United States in 2007, a 10 percent increase over 2006. This as Congress is considering a measure—the so-called "Travel Promotion Act"—to market the United States to international tourists, of which it's said the country's not attracting enough.

The influx of international visitors to the United States from abroad came primarily from 10 countries, including Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Italy, visitors from which collectively accounted for 89 percent of U.S. international visitors. Along with U.S. residents who traveled domestically, they contributed an estimated $740 billion to the American tourism industry, spending approximately $2 billion per day, according to AH&LA, $84.5 million per hour, $1.4 million per minute and $23,500 per second.

"Americans have shown they believe that travel is a right," McInerney said, "not a luxury."

To view AH&LA's complete Lodging Industry Profile—which includes a detailed breakdown of U.S. hotels by room number, size, location and nightly rate, as well as statistics on promotional spending for tourism and profiles of the typical lodging consumer's leisure and business stay—visit AH&LA's News & Information Center Web page.