MEDUSA: Tourism is a key sector in the United States’ economy


Within the framework of MEDUSA research into adventure tourism development, our researchers lead up a research study of market demand, supply and competitiveness, analyzing multiple fields from a socio-economic, political, and environmental perspective in the following countries: France, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Each country presents some insights for MEDUSA Projects, which will be analyzed during the course of these publications.

Tourism is a key sector in the United States economy, generating 2.7% of its GDP. The tourism industry produced USD 1.5 trillion in total economic production in 2016, and it is one of the largest employers in the United States, with more than 7.6 million jobs in 2016.

The trend in American tourist consumption is characterized by domestic tourism’s remarkable significance. Of the total trips made by residents of the United States in 2018, roughly 2.3 billion were domestic and 93 million were international, meaning that 96% of tourism is domestic. However, international tourism by Americans continues to grow year by year, and it continues to be the second tourist market with the highest volume of international spending. One reason American tourists mostly embark on domestic travel is that the United States is one of the only countries worldwide that does not have paid leave by law. Americans have an average of 15 paid vacation days per year, and generally don’t use all of them.

In 2018, Europe was in third position receiving 19.1% of US visitors (tourists and hikers), with about 17.8 million arrivals. The European Commission indicates that, in 2014, tourists from the US were the main visitors from outside the EU, accounting for 18% of total nights spent in the EU by non-EU tourists.

Regarding MEDUSA countries, the UNWTO report for outbound tourism of US trips abroad by resident visitors to countries of destination (2019), indicates that Italy is in 3rd positions and Spain is in 6th. Lebanon (11.31%), Jordan (18.08%) and Tunisia (24.15%) receive less tourists from the US, and have a moderate growth rates.

In the United States, there are many studies that have identified 4 tourist categories:

  1. Baby Boomer aged 55-75: Mainly retired with time to travel - prefer cultural experiences.
  2. Gen X aged 40-55: Look for destinations to travel with family (go on the shortest trips of the 4 categories).
  3. Millennials aged 24-39: Need to travel to be happy and sustain mental health.
  4. Gen Z aged 15-23: Growing up in the midst of a global economic crisis, they are realistic, cautious, more mature, creative and self-sufficient.

In recent years, trends show an increase in international bookings over domestic ones with 41% being domestic trips and 59% of trips taken abroad in 2016. The top leisure activities for U.S. travelers were sightseeing, shopping, visiting small towns/ the countryside, experiencing ‘fine dining’, visiting historical locations, visiting art galleries/museums, experiencing cultural/ethnic heritage sites, visiting national parks/monuments, and nightclubbing.

The US travel industry is dominated by adventure travel including archaeology, canoeing, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, backpacking, and more.

In conclusion, we can confirm that American travelers can represent a target of interest for the MEDUSA Project, due to the compatibility between their travel habits with our offer.

On the one hand, this is due to the good transport infrastructure connecting the US and MEDUSA countries. On the other hand, our products correspond to US market trends, offering cultural and nature experiences to enjoy both with family and friends, as well as rural getaways that allow the tourist to experience an authentic adventure.