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September Marks the Fifth Consecutive Month of Double-Digit Travel and Tourism Export Growth

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Graph of Change in U..S. Travel and Tourism-Related ExportsInternational travelers spent nearly $12 billion in the U.S. in September

According to newly released data from the Commerce Department, international visitors traveling to the United States pumped an estimated $11.7 billion into the U.S. economy during the month of September, up $1.7 billion compared to the same period last year.  This marks the fifth month of double-digit growth and ninth straight month of overall growth in U.S. travel and tourism exports.  Total travel and tourism-related exports have increased, on average, $1.2 billion a month in 2010. 

“Travel and tourism continues to be one of the bright spots in our economy,” Locke said.  “Continued growth in the tourism sector will help us achieve our goal of doubling exports over the next two years.” 

  • Travel Receipts: Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $9.0 billion during September, an increase of 15 percent when compared to last year. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. 
  • Passenger Fare Receipts: Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors increased by nearly 27 percent to $2.7 billion for the month, an increase of $575 million when compared to September 2009.

International visitors have spent an estimated $100 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services year to date (January through September), an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Americans have spent nearly $77.4 billion abroad year-to-date (up four percent)—resulting in a $22.6 billion trade surplus for travel and tourism through the first nine months of 2010.

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TSA harassment and its impact on American travel-related busines

Just watch this growth number drop as people around the world see the uncontrolled activities of the TSA's new aggressive and invasive personal searches. This week I was repeatedly poked, prodded, groped, frisked, and fondled, about which I have blogged and tweeted extensively. Just as Congressmen were reluctant to oppose J. Edgar Hoover's FBI in the 1950s for fear of being thought soft on Communism, so it is with Congress and John Pistole's TSA, lest they be thought to be soft on terrorism.

From Mr. Pistole's testimony before Congress this week, it is clear that travelers must surrender their rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution if they wish to board an airplane. There is nothing to prevent the TSA from arbitrarily adding people to the TSA's no-fly list, and no recourse available to citizens who are added.

The Department of Commerce should recognize that these TSA policies do not improve passenger safety in any way and that they are bad for American businesses. Fewer Americans will travel, fewer foreigners will visit, and tourist-dependent businesses will be affected. I'm not sure why the airlines, hotel chains, convention centers, and theme park operators haven't objected to the TSA's assault on civil liberties, but it may be simply that they are still benefiting from the reservations made before the TSA's escalation of searches.

I'm sure that it is difficult for one government agency to oppose another agency, but I hope that the Department of Commerce will carefully monitor the negative reactions to the TSA's procedures, and be among the first to raise an alarm when American travel-related businesses are hurt by these procedures. I hope that Secretary Locke is not among those who are intimidated by the TSA.