Tourists Love the Sun/Beach/Coast/Ocean
According to the most recent data (for 2003), that was just released, "California ranked number one overall in terms of total spending by domestic and international travelers , earning nearly $72 billion in expenditures," followed by Florida in a distant second and New York in a far distant third place. Most of the expenditures were from domestic travelers, as 2003 was a down year for international arrivals.
The top 10 were:
$71.56 billion - California
$56.30 billion - Florida
$35.43 billion - New York
$34.60 billion - Texas
$23.00 billion - Illinois
$21.34 billion - Nevada
$16.42 billion - Pennsylvania
$15.65 billion - Georgia
$15.42 billion - New Jersey
$14.30 billion - Virginia
With the major exception of Nevada, these rankings roughly parallel the overall population rank of US states.
Consider that the US $ was worth quite a lot more in 2003 than it is worth today!
"The top five states in terms of travel-generated employment in 2003 were California (818,700 jobs); Florida (734,600 jobs); Texas (518,500 jobs); New York (378,500 jobs); and Nevada (342,700 jobs)."
"Overall, the travel and tourism industry ranks as the first-, second-, or third-largest employer in 29 of the 50 states." Michigan has the most tourism jobs per capita than any other state.
Be sure to see my September 25, 2005 podcast on Tourism Statistics before taking all these numbers as absolute.