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National Restaurant Association - Increased tourism a good sign for restaurants

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Increased tourism a good sign for restaurants

A continued increase in U.S. tourism spending, particularly among international travelers, will aid restaurant sales in 2012, industry observers say.

"There has been a travel rebound, particularly in international visitation, and that, definitely, is helping restaurant sales grow," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association's Research & Knowledge Group.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, International visitors spent approximately $126 billion on travel to and tourism-related activities in the United States through the third quarter of 2011. The figure is an increase of 14 percent over the same period a year ago, the data found.

This uptick in tourism spending is a positive harbinger of things to come for the restaurant industry, Riehle noted.

He said tourism spending is of particular importance to restaurateurs as it has a direct and significant impact on the industry's growth.

"Basically, $1 out of every $3 in food and beverage sales is related to tourism so what occurs in the travel and tourism arena has a direct correlation as to how industry sales will advance throughout the year," he stated.

Riehle further indicated that all signs currently point toward a positive industry performance in 2012.

"Tourism growth is expected to remain positive again, which, of course, is good news for restaurant operators," he said. "After all, when people travel, they have to rely on restaurants."

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