California Spendin’

The gold rush continues in California as domestic travelers made it the most popular destination in terms of dollars spent, reports the Travel Industry Association’s Tourism Works For America study, released last week.

Travelers spent $60 billion in the Golden State, according to the study, which is based on 2001 figures, the most recent data available. The numbers include dollars spent by business, convention, and leisure travelers, says Cathy Keefe, TIA spokeswoman.

Florida ranks second with $40.1 billion in travel earnings, followed by Texas ($31.2 billion), New York ($26.5 billion), Illinois ($20.7 billion), Nevada ($18.8 billion), Pennsylvania ($14.4 billion), New Jersey ($14.3 billion), Georgia ($14.1 billion), and Virginia ($12.9 billion).

Florida is the favorite U.S. destination of international travelers, who spent $15.6 billion in the state. California ranks second with $12 billion in international travel dollars earned, while New York is third with $8.4 billion. Hawaii ($5.9 billion) and Texas ($3.2 billion) round out the top five.

California is also tops in the number of travel-generated employment with 701,300 industry related jobs. Florida is second with 540,500, followed by Texas (491,400), Nevada (312,900), and New York (299,600). Overall, the travel and tourism industry is the first, second, or third largest employer in 29 of the 50 states, according to TIA.