U.S. Lodging Industry Sees Rise in Sales, International Visitors, AH&LA Study Finds

In 2008, the U.S. lodging industry posted pre-tax profits of $25.8 billion and $140.6 billion in sales, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association's (AH&LA) annual Lodging Industry Profile, which also reported a record 58 million international travelers to the United States.

While the industry's pre-tax profits were down from $28 billion in 2007, its sales—which contributed to an overall $770 billion in tourism sales, equaling visitor spending of $2.1 billion a day, $88 million an hour, $1.5 million a minute and $24,500 a second—were up from $139.4 billion.

The number of international travelers visiting the United States, meanwhile, was up from 56 million in 2007, a 6 percent increase of 25.3 million visitors—mostly from Canada (18.9 million), the United Kingdom (4.6 million), Japan (3.2 million), Germany (1.8 million) and France (1.2 million).

According to AH&LA, the hotel industry's growing profits over the last several years can be attributed primarily to rising room rates, which averaged $106.84 in 2008—up from $103.87 in 2007—in response to growing demand from both leisure and business travelers.

Although 2009 numbers aren't yet available, the association expects both profits and demand to drop compared to 2008 as a result of the global economic downturn.

"The positive numbers illustrate that interest from both U.S. and international travelers translated into real dollars supporting a strong tourism product in 2008," AH&LA President and CEO Joseph A. McInerney, CHA, said in a statement. "However, with the softening of the economy in Q4 of 2008 and into 2009, our industry will see an end to our six-year streak of increased profitability."

For more information about AH&LA's Lodging Industry Profile, including complete data sets, visit www.ahla.com.