Tourists pose for a photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. (Getty Images )
The U.S. travel and tourism industry is on pace for a record-setting year, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Friday.
International visitors spent an estimated $68.4 billion traveling to and spending time in the United States in the first five months of this year, an increase of 12% from the same period last year, the Commerce Department reported.
Americans spent nearly $50 billion on travel and tourism abroad in that time — creating an $18.4-billion trade surplus, the agency reported.
In May, international visitors spent about $13.9 billion on travel to and tourism-related activities within the United States, up 8% from the same month last year, according to the federal agency.
May was the 29th straight month of higher spending by international visitors to the U.S.
The nation's first coordinated $150-million media campaign to promote the U.S. to travelers worldwide was launched in May, featuring an anthem called "Land of Dreams" by singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash.
The campaign was approved by Congress as part of the Travel Promotion Act of 2010. It has been financed by a $14 fee charged to each international visitor who registers for a visa to enter the U.S., plus donations from private businesses such as hotels and theme parks.
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