$22 Billion In Lost Tourist Dollars

Las Vegas
Major American cities have suffered serious declines in travel and tourism over the last two years because of the depressed economy and the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

That's according to a new study, which says the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country lost 536,000 jobs and $22.6 billion since the end of 2000, about half of it attributed to the fallout from the terrorist attacks and public fear about terrorism.

Tourism losses job losses have been especially heavy in Phoenix, San Diego, Houston and Orlando, Fla., said the study conducted by DRI-WEFA, an economic research firm, for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Travel Business Roundtable and the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus.

New York, where terrorists attacked the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001, has lost an estimated 17 percent of the $17.6 billion that tourism brought to the metro area during 2000. And Washington D.C., which saw the Pentagon attacked, has lost about 11.3 percent of the $10.2 billion tourism brought during 2000.

"Tourism is not a nameless, faceless industry," said Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, chairman of a task force on travel and tourism for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "If people make fewer trips to a city, the chances are that fewer are people working in hotels, fewer families are being employed in the industry."

The mayors want the federal government to promote tourism and travel as a way to help cities recover from the downturn in the economy.

The mayors are calling for the creation of a presidential advisory council on travel and tourism. They're also asking Congress to enact tax credits, to help unskilled and disadvantaged workers receive job training for the travel and tourism industries.

The study noted that tourism was a $263 billion industry in the leading 100 metropolitan areas in 2000 providing 3.9 million jobs.

Tourism is an economic engine that is crucial to the health of communities across the country, said Michael Gehrisch, president and chief executive of the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. The mayors group said international travel to cities is not likely to recover soon without aggressive efforts by both private business and the government.

Here are the 10 top metro areas of the country, with the amount generated by tourism in 2000, followed by the percentage of expected decline by the end of 2002:

  • New York, $17.6 billion in 2000, down 17 percent.
  • Chicago, $14 billion in 2000, down 16.2 percent.
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif., $13.6 billion in 2000, down 14.5 percent.
  • Atlanta, $11.1 billion in 2000, down 12.5 percent.
  • Washington, $10.2 billion in 2000, down 11.3 percent.
  • Dallas, $9.8 billion in 2000, down 15.9 percent.
  • San Francisco, $8.4 billion in 2000, down 26.5 percent.
  • Las Vegas, $7.8 billion in 2000, down 22.3 percent.
  • Houston, $7.6 billion in 2000, down 8.2 percent.
  • Boston, $7.4 billion in 2000, down 16.5 percent.