By Hugo Martin
Spending by international visitors to the U.S. continues to rise, setting a new record in September.
Foreign visitors spent $13.9 billion traveling to and visiting the U.S. in September, a 4% increase over the same month in 2011, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Spending by international visitors has been growing steadily for the past three years, with tourists from China, Brazil, Australia and South Korea, among a few other countries, generating the biggest boost in revenues.
Of the total spent in September, foreign visitors put out about $10.7 billion toward hotels, food, gifts and other expenses. An additional $3.2 billion or so was spent on airfares and other transportation costs.
The spending figures are on pace to break last year’s record.
Spending by international visitors generated $152.7 billion in 2011, a 14% increase over 2010, according to federal data.
In the first nine months of 2012, foreign visitors had already spent $123 billion, up 8% from the same period in 2011, according to the Department of Commerce.
“The U.S. tourism industry is on pace for yet another record-setting year and represents our fastest growing private services export sector through the first three quarters of 2012,” Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said in a statement.
Travel experts attribute the increase in visitor spending to a growth in affluent travelers in China, Brazil and other countries with relatively stable economies, and the removal of travel barriers into the U.S.