Indian tourists contributed USD 2.86 billion
Well aware that the ultimate economic impact to the US economy would be multiple of that, US President Barack Obama, on Thursday targeted India, Brazil and China to attract more foreign tourists, so that his country can retain the status of top global tourist destination.
"Let`s realise that in the years ahead, more and more tourists are going to come from countries, with rapidly growing economies, huge populations and emerging middle classes; countries like China, India and Brazil," Obama said at Disney Land in Florida yesterday as he unveiled a slew of measures, including a relaxed visa program, to make it easier for people from these countries to come and visit US.
Obama`s emphasis on these three countries is driven by the fact that tourists from India, China and Brazil contributed approximately USD 15 billion and thousands of jobs to the US economy in 2010.
In 2010, more than 6.51 lakh Indian tourists visited the US, an increase of 139 per cent since 2.72 lakh Indian visitors to the US in the year 2003, according to latest figures provided by the International Trade Administration of US Department of Commerce.
The number of travelers from India is projected to increase by 50 per cent by 2016 as compared to 2010, the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters travelling with Obama to the Disney Land.
Visitors from China and Brazil are, however, projected to grow much more than India by 135 per cent and 274 per cent respectively, he said.
Average spending, in the US, by an Indian tourist in 2010 was USD 4,390 (USD 2.86 billion for 651,000 visitors)," Cory Churches, spokesman, International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce, told PTI. .
6,000 and USD 5,000 respectively each, per trip. A fact sheet on India prepared by the International Trade Administration, said that an overwhelming majority of Indian tourists came to the US for either business and professional reasons or visiting friends and relatives.
Only a small percentage of them ? less than 10 per cent — said that are visiting the US for leisure, recreation or holidays. The average age of female Indian tourists in 2010 was 44 years while that of male was 42 years.
The report also said that for nearly one-third of Indian tourists, the US was their first foreign travel.
On an average an Indian tourist visited 1.8 American States and stayed in the US for more than month and a half.
Earlier in the day, Obama signed an executive order tasking the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior to co-lead an inter agency task force to develop recommendations for national travel and tourism strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities.
He has tasked the Departments of State and Homeland Security with increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 per cent in 2012, and ensuring that 80 per cent of non-immigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application.
According to the US Department of Commerce, international travel resulted in USD 134 billion in US exports in 2010 and is the nation`s largest service export industry, with seven per cent of total exports and 24 per cent of service exports.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that every additional 65 international visitors to the US can generate enough exports to support an additional travel and tourism-related job.
According to the travel industry and BEA, international travel is particularly important as overseas or "long-haul" travelers spend on average USD 4,000 on each visit.