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National Restaurant Association - Increase in tourism good for restaurants

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Increase in tourism good for restaurants

Growth in international tourism is on the menu this year and that’s good for the restaurant industry, our latest research indicates. Increased visitors represent more diners in restaurants, especially fine-dining establishments.

“Tourism remains an important driver of restaurant industry sales,” said Hudson Riehle, our senior vice president of research. “Culinary experiences can add value to any trip, whether stopping at a roadside café or seeking out food-centric destinations around the country.”

Tourism to U.S. to hit record high

According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO):

  • This year, a record high 78.6 million international visitors are expected to come to the United States.
  • Steady growth is expected to continue for the next several years, resulting in more than 94 million international travelers to the United States by 2021.
  • The number of overseas visitors is projected to increase 28 percent between 2015 and 2021, with a 23 percent increase in travelers from Mexico and a 9 percent gain in visitors from Canada.

International arrivals down in 2016

Despite a decline in international arrivals in 2016, spending on food and beverage services continued to trend higher at an inflation-adjusted 3.1 percent rate, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. That year represented the seventh consecutive year of real growth in food and beverage purchases by international travelers.

For their part, several restaurant operators stated their tourism business was relatively static in 2016. Among the five major restaurant segments, only fine dining operators reported a net increase in travelers and tourists as a proportion of their business.

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