Visa Report Shows Powerful Travel Spending Growth in 2010

Travelers are putting the economic downturn behind them and spending more on their trips, according to a newly released Visa report. Or at least Visa cardholders do! According to Visa’s “Tourism Outlook USA,” US card holders spent 31 billion dollars in 2010 on trips abroad, a 6% growth compared to 2009. At the same time, foreign Visa card holders traveling to the US have spent 18% more than in 2009, that is 34 billion US dollars, up from only 29 billion in the previous year.

“Despite economic uncertainties, the United States continues to be a major contributor to the global tourism economy, both as a destination of choice and as a critical source of tourism for many countries,” says William Sheedy, Visa’s group president for the Americas.

The most popular destination for US travelers with a Visa card was Canada, boosted as a top country to visit by hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and enticing them to spend 3.5 billion on trips to this country, up 8% from 2009. The following top destinations were Mexico and the UK.

While analyzing the top ten countries US card holders travel to, Visa noticed the sharpest travel spending increased happened for China – 741 million US dollars spent, 18% more than in 2009.

But the USA is not only a big travel spender, it also attracted quite a lot of tourist money in 2010. Canadian Visa clients spent 9.2 billion US dollars while traveling in the US, the largest amount spent by travelers from one country, and up 18% from 2009. Mexico also reported a big increase, Mexican travelers to the US spending 18% more in 2010 – 2 billion US dollars, but the second largest amount was brought into the country by British card holder, 2.5 billion USD.

The preferred US destinations by foreign travelers were Florida, New York, California, Texas and Nevada, travel spending going up by more than 15% in each of these states.

While 2010 was a great year for tourism, Visa representatives are being very careful with their 2011 forecasts, as the tourism industry and businesses in general need to asses long term effects of the economic downturn. Additionally, natural disasters, such as last month’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, can greatly affect travel spending.