Every year thousands of visitors flock to the United States to explore the country and experience the culture. The travel and tourism industry has grown exponentially from 55 million international visitors in 2009 to 70 million in 2013.
Understanding the importance of this industry, President Obama recently set a goal to increase the numbers to 100 million visitors annually by the end of 2021 . It’s a daunting number that may seem impossible, but state tourism offices all over America are jumping at the opportunity to expand and grow local businesses.
But how can these local businesses and tourism offices figure out the best ways to attract more visitors to their states?
One word: Data
The U.S. Department of Commerce recently released its 2013 report on International Visitation to the United States  which outlines international visitor data for the following five categories:
- Total International Arrivals
- Top Overseas Regions
- Top 50 Markets
- Comparison of Pleasure to Business Visitors
- Top Ports-of-Entry
In the travel and tourism industry, it’s extremely important to gather these numbers for the success and growth of your business. This data can help your company in a variety of ways, and here are a few;
- The data will help determine what kind of travelers visit your state. Maine used the International Trade Administration’s data  as a tool to determine that international visitors and young adults were the two groups whose travel to the state was growing significantly.
- Understanding what types of tourists visit your state can help you tailor your marketing techniques to those groups of people. For example, if businesses in Maine were targeting retired couples, they wouldn’t attract as much business as if they had been marketing to international and young adult visitors because those are the numbers that are growing.
- Using data can also help you understand exactly where your visitors are coming from. Understanding your visitors can help them feel more at home and want to come back. For example, if a hotel discovers most of their clients come from Latin America, having someone on staff who speaks Spanish will help make their stay more comfortable.
The travel and tourism industry needs data to understand exactly how to grow its businesses because growth in the industry means growth in American jobs. In the past five years, roughly 175,000 American jobs were created in the travel and tourism industry alone. With Obama’s new goal of 100 million visitors annually by 2021, thousands more jobs will be created and our economy will continue to prosper.
In honor of data month check out the National Travel and Tourism Industries homepage  where you can find recent tourism reports and other information to help your business grow.