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The Economic Impact of Tourism

Everyone loves to travel, right? Well, if you’re a government official responsible for making sure people visit your country, you really love it. For many countries in the world, tourism is their biggest industry. Let’s take a look at the financial impact of travel and tourism around the world.

Where Is Everyone Going?

United States

U.S. tourist destinations by annual visitors (1)

City/area: Annual visitors

Times Square, New York City: 41,900,000

Central Park, New York City: 40,000,000

Union Station, Washington, D.C.: 36,500,000

Las Vegas Strip, Nevada: 29,500,000

Disney World, Florida: 17,142,000

Disneyland, California: 16,140,000

Golden Gate Bridge, California: 15,000,000

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Massachusetts: 15,000,000

Balboa Park, California: 13,000,000

Pike Place Market, Washington: 10,000,000

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina: 9,008,830

Navy Pier, Illinois: 8,700,000

*Domestic and international visitors, excluding commuters

Most popular tourist site by state (according to TripAdvisor analysis of visits and recent reviews) (2)

Alabama: USS Alabama in Mobile

Alaska: Anan Wildlife Observatory in Wrangell

Arizona: Red Rock Scenic Byway in Sedona

Arkansas: William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock

California: Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1 from Los Angeles to Carmel

Colorado: Trail Ridge Road in Estes Park

Connecticut: The Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach

District of Columbia: Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool

Florida: Stetson Mansion in DeLand

Georgia: Mickve Israel Temple in Savannah

Hawaii: Na Pali Coast in Kauai

Idaho: Craters of the Moon National Monument in Arco

Illinois: Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean,” in

Indiana: Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis

Iowa: Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend

Kansas: Massachusetts Street in Lawrence

Kentucky: Floodwall Murals in Paducah

Louisiana: St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

Massachusetts: John Jenney Museum in Plymouth

Maine: Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth

Maryland: Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore

Michigan: Guardian Building in Detroit

Minnesota: North Shore Scenic Drive in Duluth

Mississippi: USS Cairo Museum in Vicksburg

Missouri: Gateway Arch in Saint Louis

Montana: Going-to-the-Sun Road at Glacier National Park

Nebraska: Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney

Nevada: Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas

New Hampshire: Kancamagus Highway in North Conway

New Jersey: Ocean City Boardwalk in Ocean City

New Mexico: White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo

New York: Central Park in New York City

North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville

North Dakota: Fargo Theatre in Fargo

Ohio: Portsmouth Floodwall Mural in Portsmouth

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City

Oregon: Cape Perpetua Scenic Area in Yachats

Pennsylvania: Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg

Rhode Island: Ocean Drive in Newport

South Carolina: Hunting Island State Park in Beaufort

South Dakota: Loop Road in Badlands National Park

Tennessee: Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Texas: Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Theatre in Dallas

Utah: Observation Point in Zion National Park

Vermont: Smugglers’ Notch State Park in Stowe

Virginia: National D-Day Memorial in Bedford

Washington: Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park

West Virginia: New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville

Wisconsin: Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee

Wyoming: Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park


Most popular destinations for international visitors (3)

Country: International tourists (2012)

France: 83,013,000

United States: 66,969,000

China: 57,725,000

Spain: 57,701,000

Italy: 46,360,000

Turkey: 35,698,000

Germany: 30,411,000

United Kingdom: 29,282,000

Russian Federation: 28,177,000

Malaysia: 25,033,000

Austria: 24,151,000

Hong Kong: 23,770,000

Mexico: 23,403,000

Ukraine: 23,013,000

Thailand: 22,354,000

Canada: 16,344,000:

Greece: 15,518,000:

Poland: 14,840,000

Saudi Arabia: 14,276,000

Macao: 13,578,000

What Are All Those Visitors Worth?

In short, they’re worth trillions. Travel and tourism represent the fastest-growing sector of the world economy.

266 million

Global number of jobs related to travel and tourism (4)


Travel and tourism industry’s share of global GDP (4)

$1.5 trillion

Total economic output generated by the U.S. travel and tourism industry in 2012 (5)

Travel and tourism account for 8.6% of the U.S. GDP. (6)

For some countries, tourism is their most bustling industry.

International tourism receipts per $1,000 of GDP, top 10 (7)

Palau: $726.26

Macau: $666.90

Aruba: $434.81

Seychelles: $387.81

Cayman Islands: $363.48

The Bahamas: $321.70

Barbados: $292.83

Vanuatu: $273.12

Lebanon: $267.45

Fiji: $245.52

International tourism receipts in U.S. dollars, top 10 (3)

United States: $200,092,000,000

France: $63,530,000,000

Spain: $63,198,000,000

China: $54,937,000,000

Germany: $51,581,000,000

United Kingdom: $45,966,000,000

Macao: $44,455,000,000

Italy: $43,036,000,000

Hong Kong: $38,021,000,000

Thailand: $37,740,000,000