Issues & Advocacy

Issue Brief

Tourism

The success of restaurants is closely tied to travel and tourism. Across all dining segments, about one in every four dollars spent at restaurants comes as a direct result of travel and tourism.

The effect of travel and tourism is most significant in the fine-dining sector, where it generates 30 percent of sales. Travel and tourism generate about 19 percent of sales in quickservice restaurants, and about 15 percent of sales in fast-casual restaurants.

Travel and tourism help the restaurant industry create hundreds of thousands of jobs each year. Restaurants, as an industry, are the second-largest creator of summer jobs, due in large part to the increase in travel and tourism that occurs during the summer months. In a typical summer travel season, restaurants add more than 400,000 jobs. The increase is perhaps most dramatic in popular tourist areas, where restaurant employment tends to jump 20 percent during the summer months over typical January levels.

Restaurants benefit from increased tourism, and when restaurants do well, the effects are felt across all parts of the economy.

POLICY CAN HELP DRIVE TOURISM

Policymakers can help ensure the U.S. economy continues to reap the benefits of travel and tourism by supporting programs, laws and reforms that promote domestic and international tourism. Specifically, the National Restaurant Association supports actions that:

REDUCE BARRIERS TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL.

As the debate over immigration reform and border security continues, it’s important that improvements in border security also come with steps to ensure that legal travel and tourism aren’t hindered in any way.

PROMOTE INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL TO THE U.S.

A recent increase in the number of tourists traveling overseas to the U.S. led to higher sales at fine-dining and fast-casual restaurants, both of which have reported increased percentages of sales coming from travelers and tourists. Congress can do its part to draw international tourists to the U.S. by continuing to support Brand USA, the first program to promote the U.S. as an international tourist destination. Brand USA is funded by a fee assessed to international travelers, at no cost to taxpayers. The increased tourism it brings translates into more business for restaurants, hotels, and retailers, which in turn generates into millions of jobs.

INCREASE THE TAX DEDUCTIBILITY OF BUSINESS MEALS.

Business travelers from companies of all sizes often conduct business over meals at restaurants. Currently, 50 percent of the cost of business meals is tax deductible. Increasing the level of deductibility to 80 percent would generate nearly $8 billion in additional meal sales and nearly 200,000 jobs, according to NRA research.