Discover Network: International Tourism, a $222 Billion Welcome Mat

October 8, 2015         By: Erika Napoletano

The $222 Billion Welcome Mat: The Impact of International Tourism on Your Sales

By Erika Napoletano

No matter where your business calls home across the U.S., tourists wander through every day. Seeing the sites, visiting relatives, or just stopping to see another piece of America between where they were and where they’re going, these tourists are spending roughly $222 billion at U.S. businesses.1

With just a few simple strategies, you can help your business get a piece of that $222 billion[1] pie.

According to The United Nations World Tourism Organization, roughly 15 percent of the world’s population (1.13 billion people) visits the U.S. each year, armed with credit cards issued in their home countries.2 Given this, it’s critical to understand both the potential impact of international tourism on your business, as well as ensure that you make purchases a breeze for any international shoppers.

The international tourism economy is huge—and growing

The majority of visitors to the U.S. each year come from our closest neighbors: Canada and Mexico. The U.S. Department of Commerce, however, estimates that visitors from other countries are rapidly on the rise. From 2013 to 2014, figures show that tourism to the U.S. from China and India increased by 24 percent and 9 percent respectively—and there are no signs of slowing down.2 And what’s more: Visitors from these two countries alone are expected to increase by close to 40 percent and 54 percent respectively between 2013 and 2018.

Make sure you are ready to welcome these tourists from around the world and realize the benefits of their valuable spend.

Ensure you are ready for international travelers

Upon arriving on U.S. shores, travelers are carrying payment cards issued by a wide range of global institutions. These travelers seek out merchants that accept their payment card of choice. They may decide to go elsewhere if they cannot use their card.

So what’s the easiest way to enable international tourists to spend in your store? With Discover Global Network acceptance.

Discover Global Network brings cardholders from around the world to your door

Discover Global Network is the third-largest payment network in the world (Retail Banking and Research, August 2014) and has more than 30 million merchant locations in 185 countries. Acceptance gives you – the business owner – access to loyal cardholders around the world and the ability to tap into a share of that international spending.

“U.S. merchants should know that by accepting Discover Card, they accept all cards on Discover Global Network,” said Joe Hurley, Senior Vice President of Global Business Development at Discover. “We have strategic alliances with some of the largest international domestic networks around the world, including UnionPay in China, BCcard from South Korea, JCB in Japan, and RuPay from India. These alliances allow cardholders on these domestic networks around the globe to travel to the U.S. and use their cards as they normally would. This opens the door for U.S. merchants to accept international payment cards when they accept Discover, and to benefit from tourist spending.”

Hurley added that Discover Global Network continues to expand significantly in international markets by establishing alliances with key participants in the payments industry.

Your merchant welcome mat

When your business has the ability to accept a variety of card types, it is equipped to welcome a greater number of customers and take advantage of increasing international tourism spending in the U.S. Several updates can better position your business to tap into tourist spending, including posting acceptance signage around your store and updating your website to show you take a variety of cards for payment.

For more information, visit the Discover Global Network website.