The scale of U.S. tourism and the impact of the Covid-19

Final Projects, Visualization


In the previous lab, I made a map of the distribution of cities in the United States and how it connected to airports and railway construction. Inspired by this project and the recent growing severity of the Covid19, travel services have also become one of the industries most affected. With the coming of holidays and festivals, travel has gradually become a hot topic.

So for this project, I mainly focus on data on the development of the service industry in the world and the United States, so that everyone can clearly see why the epidemic hits the tourism industry and affect the local economy significantly. This report will also include UX research from the individual traveler aspect to show the individual’s travel preferences, consumption, and the impact of the epidemic on their travel plans.

Material & Tools

The data used for this project is Tourist/visitor Arrivals and Tourism Expenditure and World Tourism Data – Employment from UN data. The tourist/visitor arrivals and tourism expenditure dashboard was made by Tableau, which is a powerful and advanced data analysis platform. For the chart of tourism employment, only the data of the United State was used, so I use Excel to create the chart. In this project, some charts on the relevant official website are also directly quoted. The data has no open resources, but they are necessary for the analysis.

Design & Analysis

This is the dashboard of world Tourist-Visitors Arrival and Their in-country Expenditure


Visitor Arrivals (thousand)

The above two charts are about the number of people traveling to each country. The world map on the left shows the visitor arrivals in each country in 2017. It can be clearly seen that Europe and the United States are the most popular visited places in the world, and the more popular tourist destinations in Asia are China and Thailand.

The graph on the right shows the specific number of arrivals in each country. The chart only shows the top 10 countries, and the data of other countries can be displayed by clicking on the country filter on the right. The number of arrivals in all the popular tourist countries has steadily increased with the year. It is clear to see that France is the most popular travel destination in the world, receiving 86,785,000 foreign tourists in 2017. The United States ranked third with 77,187,000 visitors.

Tourism expenditure in the country (million dollar)

While when coming to expenditure, the U.S. travel income is 251,544 million dollars, which is much higher than all other countries. The expenditure of tourists in the United States is more than three times that of Spain or France. The main reason is that compared with popular European countries such as France and Spain, the United States has a larger area and more cities to visit. And because of the distance between the United States and the Eurasian continent, many tourists will have more time and money budget when traveling to the United States.

A similar situation also happened in Australia. Although the number of tourists is not one of the top ten, the in country consumption of tourists ranked 8th in the world. In contrast, in countries like Mexico, because the price of travel products and services is lower and tourists do not stay long enough. Although the number of tourists visiting the place each year is high, the total consumption of tourists is not very prominent. 

United States Tourist Arrivals

For the tourist arrivals data with 2020 , the impact of the covid-19 on the United States tourism arrivals is obvious. According to the fluctuation of the curve, the annual travel situation is similar and there is always a peak in summer. While in 2020, with the effect of the epidemic, the number of tourist arrival has fallen off a cliff. Due to the global close and shut down policy, it once dropped down to zero, and only has a slight upward trend in summer.

U.S. Tourism Economy of Each State

The economic impact of the travel industry

The next step is to focus on analyzing the tourism economy of each state of the US. The data source is the economic impact map from the U.S. Travel Association. When coming to the impact of the Covid-19 on the travel industry, some cities with the developed tourism industry will be significantly impacted, which are the states with the highest travelers expenditure and the largest employment-population, including California, Texas, and New York. The epidemic will bring more serious economic losses and unemployed conditions in these states.

But what is more worthy of our attention is the states like Nevada or Hawaii. Their total tourism income and employment may not be as large as those of the previously mentioned economically developed states, but tourism is the local pillar industry, which supports the most local employment and government revenue. Therefore, from the perspective of the employment and economic impact of the entire state, the impact of the epidemic on these states will be even greater.

Tourism Employment

Tourism Employment

This chart reflects the number of employees in the entire US travel industry. The line chart on the left shows the number of employees in various fields of tourism from 2005 to 2018.The number of employee was as high as 5,924,800 in 2018, and they face a greater risk of unemployment in the epidemic. What surprises me is that during this period of time, the total number of tourism employees and the proportions of each field did not change significantly. It shows that the overall development of the tourism industry in the United States has entered a relatively mature and stable state.

The pie chart on the right shows the proportion of employees in different service areas of tourism. We can see that the main travel industry employment comes from food serving, accommodation, and passenger transport, which account for 74% of the entire travel industry employment. The data is also consistent with the personal travel budget distribution in the subsequent interview.

UX Research

Different from the above data analysis, in the part of UX research, I invite two friends who like traveling (Adalyn and Yue) to do interviews. I want to know about their travel frequency, preferences, cost, and the impact of the Covid-19 on their travel.

Travel Background

Adalyn travels about ten times a year. She prefers international travel, and her favorite place is Europe. But because of the limitations of money and time, most of her travel happens in the United States. Compared with natural landscapes, she prefers cultural tours. Apart from Hawaii, she likes big cities with many museums and art galleries, such as Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, etc.

Yue is an international student studying in the United States and travels about 5 times a year. She prefers domestic travel because it is more convenient and cheaper. She prefers to go to places with amazing natural scenery, such as Yellowstone National Park, Niagara Falls, and Hawaii.


The travel budget for two people is similar, the cost of a short trip by train or car is 500-1000 dollars, and the general budget for a long-distance trip by airplane is 1000-2000 dollars. The budget for traveling abroad is always difficult to control. Most of the money spend on accommodation, transportation, food and the tickets. Excluding the fixed expenses for transportation and tickets, their difference in travel expenses is that Yue prefers to stay in relatively cheap hotels and spend more money to experience local cuisine. Adalyn prefers to spend more money to stay in hotels with better conditions and convenient transportation, and the choice of meals is more casual. This should be related to their wake-up time. Yue likes to get up and go on the trip in the early morning, while Adalyn likes to go out near noon.

Covid-19 Impact

The epidemic has a great impact on their travel. First of all, two people said that they were afraid to travel during the epidemic and would never travel by air. They believed that the risk of infection on airplanes was high. For Adalyn, many museums or entertainment facilities were closed during the epidemic. The policy of limiting the number of people will affect the quality of travel, so she chose to wait for the epidemic to be better controlled before going on long-distance travel.

Yue’s experience is even more frustrating. She and her friends have already booked the airplane tickets, hotels, and all the schedules for the trip to Puerto Rico, but because the epidemic is getting worse, all have been canceled for safety reasons. And she said I have to bring a lot of anti-epidemic items when I go out and wear masks all the time, which will affect my travel mood and taking pictures.

But what they all mentioned was camping parks, because they stayed at home for too long, they all chose to drive with friends to the nearby nature park to hike and camping there on warm days. The parks have fresh air and not many people, so they are very suitable as a choice for going out during the epidemic. But there will be almost no consumption, they only bring some food casually.

Trend After Covid-19

They are afraid and worried about going out during the epidemic, and they also know that the epidemic has caused serious losses in a large number of service industries, and many people lose their jobs. However, they have a positive attitude to the recovery of the tourism industry after the epidemic. Yue said that in next summer, it’s possible that the epidemic will be controlled or get the vaccination. The tourism industry will have good development by then. Adalyn also said that people have stayed at home for too long. If the epidemic is brought under control, the tourism industry will rebound and the world will usher in a small peak in travel.

Data Visualization

They raised some questions and comments on the data dashboard, including unclear units, confusing meanings of Arrival and Expenditure, and unclear colors. Previously, the world map and treemap were all blue, which seemed to be some relations between them. So later the color of the Expenditure treemap was changed to red. In addition, these data clearly show the overview of the tourism industry in the world and the United States and give people a sense of the scale of the epidemic’s impact on the tourism industry. But they hope that there can be more data from the traveler aspect, which is more helpful for travelers making plans during the epidemic, such as the scenic spots that are still open during the epidemic.


This project presents the scale of the world and the U.S. tourism industry, and how the Covid-19 impact on U.S. tourism economy and employment. The disadvantage is that for the map of the economic impact on each state, I cannot find the open resource dataset and made the map by myself. So In this project, I directly use the data and chart from the US Travel Association. After more data during the Covid-19 period is made public, it is worth further research and analysis.

From a personal point of view, most people are worried about long-distance travel by plane during the epidemic, and many policies related to the epidemic will also curb everyone’s desire to travel. Therefore, the most fundamental way to save tourism economic losses is to control the epidemic. According to the feedback given to me by the interviewees, everyone said that driving to the natural park to hike and relax is a relatively safe choice during the epidemic. So I found another interesting data of campgrounds in the US and used Carto to create a map. I hope it can give you some travel reference from an individual perspective.

Campgrounds in the US
Campgrounds detail

Setting state as filter,We can see that California has the most campgrounds. When you zoom in and click on a specific state, the points of other states can be removed. For each data point, the name of the park and state can be checked on the label.