Travel and tourism spending in the U.S. during 2011 grew at 3.5%, the highest rate of growth for the industry in the past five years. Total tourism-related employment was up 1.4%, ending three-consecutive years of declines.
The figures, released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, show that 7.626 million were employed directly and indirectly as a result of tourism activity in 2011. However, the number remains below the 8.283 million employed in the sector during 2008.
BEA figures also showed inflation in tourism slowed in the fourth quarter of 2011, but was up for the year.
“Overall growth in prices for travel and tourism goods and services turned down, decreasing 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 following a 5.2 percent (revised) increase in the third quarter,” noted the BEA report. “The decline in prices for travel and tourism goods and services reflected decreases in prices for traveler accommodations and for total transportation. For the year, overall prices for travel and tourism goods and services increased 4.6 percent in 2011 after increasing 3.6 percent in 2010.”
The value of “direct tourism output” during 2011 was $807.453 billion, up 8.2% compared to 2010 and above the previous high of $797.526 million set in 2008.
Fourth-quarter growth in the tourism sector was 4.6%, compared to 2.6% during the 2010 period and 1% in the 2009 period.
“The increase in real spending on tourism primarily reflected increases in traveler accommodations and in food services and drinking places,” the BEA noted for the fourth quarter. “For the year, total real spending on travel and tourism increased 3.5 percent in 2011 after increasing 3.0 percent in 2010.”
Hospitality tax collections in Van Buren during 2011 totaled $429,561, up 2.34% compared to 2010. The 2011 collections end a two-year skid in Van Buren.
For the year, hospitality tax collections in Fort Smith totaled $708,141, up 4.3% compared to the 2010 period. This is the second consecutive year for a hospitality tax collection gain in Fort Smith.
The cities of Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville and Siloam Springs collected more than $4.472 million in hospitality taxes last year, a 6.37% gain over 2010. (All five cities collect a 2% room tax on hotel and meeting space, Bentonville and Fayetteville also collect a 1% tax on prepared food.) The hotel industry STR report provided by Smith’s Travel Research indicates 96 hotels in the two-county area posted cumulative annual sales revenue of $107.13 million in 2011, a 7.7% increase from 2010, and the best year since 2007.
Collection of Arkansas’ 2% tourism tax was $12.025 million during 2011, up 4.6% compared to $11.492 million during 2010. Following are the data, according to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, on total travel expenditures in Arkansas.
Total travel expenditures
2011: $5.687 billion
2010: $5.453 billion
2009: $5.377 billion
2008: $5.572 billion
2007: $5.368 billion