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In the first 10 months of 2011, foreign visitors spent $127 billion in the U.S., on pace to top the previous annual high mark in tourist expenditures set in 2008, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Data from the Commerce Department's U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries found international visitors to the U.S. spent $13.1 billion on travel and tourism-related activities in October, a 13% increase over the same month last year.
In all, the agency expects international tourism spending to surpass $152 billion in 2011 -- a sizable increase from the previous record of $141 billion in 2008.
The inflows also top the outflows: U.S. tourists traveling internationally spent an estimated $91.9 billion in the first 10 months of the year, an 8% increase from the same period last year.
The Commerce Department expects even greater tourist spending over the next five years. The greatest spending increases are estimated to come from Canada, followed by Mexico, China, and Brazil.
This spending is even more likely to rise if the federal government adopts changes to make international tourism easier. Such changes would include speeding up the process for getting tourist visas and expanding the program that waives the visa requirement for more countries, reports the LA Times.
It's estimated that around $10 billion of tourist expenditures this year came from hotels, food, tour packages, and souvenirs.
Increased tourism would be reflected in the prices and decreased vacancies of hotel rooms -- a positive trend for hotel companies. So if you're interested in investing in the tourism industry, hotel stocks may be a good place to start your search.
We list the seven largest U.S. lodging service stocks below -- do you think they will benefit from the trend? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)
1. Marriott International (NYSE: MAR ) : Operates and franchises hotels and related lodging facilities worldwide. Market cap of $10.06B. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 7.22% over the last week.
2. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (NYSE: HOT ) : Operates as a hotel and leisure company worldwide. Market cap of $9.62B. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.07). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 11.15% over the last week.
3. Hyatt Hotels (NYSE: H ) : Hyatt Hotels and its subsidiaries engage in the management, franchising, ownership, and development of Hyatt-branded hotels, resorts, and residential and vacation ownership properties worldwide. Market cap of $6.33B. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 9.92% over the last week.
4. Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE: WYN ) : Provides various hospitality products and services to individual consumers and business customers in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $5.85B. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.96). Exhibiting strong upside momentum --currently trading 5.25% above its SMA20, 10.14% above its SMA50, and 16.43% above its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 9.16% over the last week.
5. Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE ) : Operates as an online travel company in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $4.01B. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.69, and P/FCF ratio at 5.2. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 17.12% (equivalent to 6.88 days of average volume). The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading -24.14% below its SMA20, -25.89% below its SMA50, and -25.4% below its SMA200. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 25.81% over the last week.
6. Choice Hotels International (NYSE: CHH ) : Operates as a hotel franchisor worldwide. Market cap of $2.33B. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.2% (equivalent to 15.89 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.98% over the last week.
7. Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET ) : Operates as a diversified hospitality and entertainment company in the United States. Market cap of $1.20B. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.7). The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 16.61% (equivalent to 11.23 days of average volume). The stock has recently rebounded, and is currently trading 5.5% above its SMA20 and 8.77% above its SMA50. However, the stock still trades -11.39% below its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 18.16% over the last week.
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.
Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Data sourced from Finviz.