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International tourists spending rose in March, first quarter

May 6, 2013 at 2:45 PM

WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- International visitors to the United States in March spent more than $14.4 billion, up by nearly 3 percent over March 2012, the Commerce Department said.

For the first quarter, international visitors spent $43 billion on travel to the United States and tourism-related activities once they were here, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said Monday in a release.

"International travel and tourism represents our country's largest services export," Blank said. "So far this year, international visitor spending in the United States has markedly outpaced U.S. spending abroad by more than $13 billion, which continues our momentum from 2012's record-setting year."

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors in the United States totaled $11 billion during March, she said.

Fares received by U.S. carriers and U.S. vessel operators from international visitors also rose by nearly 3 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, an increase of $70 million when compared to March 2012.

Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable trade balance for March in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.2 billion, the Commerce Department said.

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