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Tourism spending among states: where Maine ranks

Maine may call itself 'Vacationland,' but national data indicate that tourism's role in the state economy is relatively modest.

  • Total tourist spending
  • Tourist spending per capita
  • State tourism promotion spending
  • Tourist spending as % of gross state product
SOURCE: U.S. Travel Association,, Bureau of Economic Analysis
INTERACTIVE: Christian MilNeil | @vigorousnorth

Big states are big on tourism

The U.S. Travel Association makes annual estimates of each state's total tourism expenditures, based on examinations of retail, entertainment, food and hospitality spending among travellers who venture over 50 miles from their homes. These figures come from the Association's most recent 2013 report – all numbers are expressed in nominal 2013 dollars, unless otherwise noted.

Unsurprisingly, the most populous states – California, Texas, New York and Florida – net the most traveller spending overall.

Tourism expenditures, adjusted for population

But, on a per capita basis, less populous western states net more tourist spending per resident.

By the U.S. Travel Association's estimates, Maine received $2,627 in tourism spending for every resident of the state in 2013. That's less than any other New England state save Rhode Island.

Tourism expenditures per capita among New England states
Rhode Island

Among all 50 states, "Vacationland" actually ranks 21st for per-capita tourist spending – behind Idaho and just ahead of Iowa.

Tourism marketing and promotion spending

Maine does, however, rank highly among the states in how much it spends on tourism marketing and promotion.

The Maine Office of Tourism's budget in 2013 was $9.6 million, which amounts to $7.38 from every resident. According to data from the travel industry website, which compiled the tourism marketing budgets for 50 state governments and the District of Columbia in 2013, Maine ranked 6th among the 50 states for how much its taxpayers spend per capita on tourism marketing.

Comparing those figures with the U.S. Travel Association's estimates of total tourist expenditures, it's possible to calculate the "bang for the buck" from each state's tourism marketing office. Maine gets $356 in tourism spending for every marketing dollar that taxpayers spend – the sixth-lowest rate of return among the 50 states.

New Hampshire, which has a smaller tourism marketing budget and receives more tourist spending overall, gets $561 in tourist spending for every marketing dollar its state government spends, and Vermont gets $782 per marketing dollar spent.

Tourism's role in each state's economy

As a total percentage of the gross state product, tourism expenditures only represent 6.39% of the state's entire economy. In Florida, tourism spending adds up to about a tenth of the economy. And in Nevada and Hawaii, tourism makes up a quarter of those states' gross income.