How Investors Can Profit From 2017’s Record-Setting Foreign Tourism Spending

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Given the current political climate, I was surprised to learn that inbound international tourism to the United States isn’t just growing; it’s skyrocketing. According to a recent Skift article citing a National Travel & Tourism Office report, “International travelers spent $20.8 billion on travel to and within the United States in April, more than a three percent increase over April 2016” and, “The first four months of 2017 are the highest for foreign tourism spending on record.”

That’s great news for anybody who works in hospitality, and it opens the door to an emerging market for anyone lucky enough to have a few truly premium vacation rentals in their portfolio.


Related: 4 Tips to Balance Out the Highly Seasonal Nature of Vacation Rentals

High Income Travelers Opt for Vacation Rentals Over Hotels

According to a 2017 YouGov Affluent Perspective report on the vacation rental industry, an increasing number of high-income international travelers are opting for vacation rentals over hotels. Nearly 60% of affluent travelers from the Middle East, where Millennials make up 50% of the wealthiest individuals, have stayed in a vacation rental in the past year. Coming in a close second, 50% of Europe’s wealthiest travelers reported staying in a vacation rental in the past year—with a whopping average stay of 12 nights.

As more international travelers pour into the United States, it’s not surprising to learn that the younger and wealthier among them are avoiding hotels. In YouGov’s study, nearly three quarters of the world’s global affluent reported that they find premium hotel experiences to be more similar than different. The world’s wealthiest travelers don’t want to be bored. In addition, respondents reported that they prefer vacation rentals because they offer more space (44%), more privacy (37%), and better location (31%).


Related: 4 Must-Ask Questions to Answer Before Purchasing a Vacation Rental

An Increase in Medical Tourism

The global elite travel whenever they want, for whatever reasons they want. One of those reasons is medical tourism, when patients travel for operations and procedures they don’t want performed by doctors in their native country. In April of this year, spending related to medical tourism in the United States shot up more than 9 percent year-over-year. If you’re a wealthy patient recovering from an appendectomy, would you rather rest up in some hotel room or in the comfort of a vacation home, where your caretakers can cook in a private kitchen while you enjoy a view of the beach?

Regardless where in the world you operate, make sure your marketing strategy considers international guests. You might just hook a big fish who falls in love with your property and gives it the golden Instagram share.

What’s your plan to profit from increased foreign tourism?

Leave your thoughts below!

About Author

Cliff Johnson

In 2009, Cliff Johnson cofounded Vacasa, a technology-enabled vacation rental management firm that has since been named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Today, Cliff oversees investor partnerships, organic growth and sales, and international development as the company’s chief development officer. Not only does Cliff personally invest in vacation rentals, but he also works with real estate investors across the country to identify and set up lucrative vacation rental opportunities backed by the Vacasa guarantee. Cliff is also a member in good standing of the Colorado and California State Bars, serves as a board member for MAPLE Microdevelopment, and is a board member for the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA).


  1. Alex R.

    The political climate is a actually helping this record setting foreign tourism spending a swell as better quality health care offered in the US compared to the rest of the world.
    Seems Tourist feels safer in the USA than other parts of the world considering all the recent terror attacks. So they would rather visit and spend in a safer and more stable country.

  2. James Wilson

    Nice article! It really gets you thinking about vacation rentals as a profitable investment strategy, especially with the rise of sites like Airbnb that make it easy to market. I would be interested to learn more.

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