More foreign tourists than ever visited the United States last year, and spent a record amount along the way, the Commerce Department said.
The number of foreign tourists hit a record 62 million last year, up 4 percent from 2010, the department said in a statement.
Foreign visitors spent a record USD$153 billion in 2011 on US travel and tourism-related goods and services, up from more than USD$130 billion the year before, the statement said.
Canada was by far the No. 1 source for foreign visitors at 21 million, followed by Mexico at 13.4 million. Britain was in the third spot at almost 4 million.
"We will do everything we can to boost this industry so that we can keep growing our economy and creating more jobs," commerce secretary John Bryson said in the statement.
The Commerce Department said the large number of foreign tourists made travel and tourism the No. 1 US service export.
The department did not give a reason for the rise in foreign visitors.
Tourism spending by domestic and international visitors combined rose 8.1 percent last year to USD$1.2 trillion.
President Barack Obama said in January he was taking measures to boost US travel and tourism. Bryson will make promoting US tourism an element of his trade mission to India next week, the statement said.