The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has reported that during Donald Trump’s presidency, U.S. tourism declined by four percent in the first half of 2017, compared with the year before. The UNWTO has estimated a loss of $194.0 million per week for the U.S economy, bringing down the U.S.’s position in the World Tourism Rankings by country. Industry experts believe that two key factors, the U.S dollar’s rise and Trump’s travel policies, are responsible for the decline in U.S. tourism.
According to U.S. tourism statistics, the first half of 2016 observed a 6.3% fall in the arrivals from the U.K.; this was the most significant fall ever observed. Trump’s travel policy to ban citizens from Muslim-majority countries resulted in the decline of visitors from the Middle East and Africa by 30.2% in 2017. This is an effect of the so-called “Trump slump.” It also affected tourist arrivals in Mexico (6.1% fall in visits), Eastern Europe (11.9%), South America (13%), Central America (10%), and the Caribbean (13.8%). Only the Asian market refrained from observing a drop.
Spain may take over the honor of world’s second-most visited country from the U.S. Spain observed an increase of around nine percent during the first 10 months of 2017.
As for current figures, in 2017, around 82.2 million international tourists visited Spain, up from 75.3 million in 2016. On the other hand, 72.9 million foreign tourists visited the U.S. last year, down from 75.9 million in 2016. In the UNWTO ranking from 2001 to 2007, Spain was above the U.S, but it lost its place during the global economic crisis.
Donald Trump to Blame for the Drop in International Tourism
Trump’s travel ban and immigration policies have led to the great decline in U.S. international tourism. Data from Foursquare Capital Corp shows a drop of 16% in America’s share of international tourism in March 2017, compared to the same month a year before.
October 2016, the month before the presidential election, marked the beginning of the decline. At that time, tourism traffic declined around 11% from October to March. In comparison, the rest of the world experienced a rise of six percent in tourism during the same period.
Foursquare analysts blamed the Trump slum for the decline in U.S tourism. Jeff Glueck, Foursquare’s CEO, noted that the residents from the Middle East and Central/South America have been avoiding the U.S. more than residents of Asia, Europe, and other regions. This was because of Trump’s encouragement of stricter immigration and travel policies for these regions.
“Proponents of President Trump’s new policies might argue that the President intended to reduce visitors from certain countries, and that the economic cost is outweighed by claimed security needs,” Glueck said. “Critics of the administration may question the effectiveness of these new tactics. Either way, we believe that the direct economic impact from these policies should be in the conversation.”
Besides Foursquare, Adobe Systems Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) recent research also reported similar findings.
Decline in International Tourism Hurting U.S. Jobs and Economy
After the first travel ban announcement on January 27, 2017, the number of international tourists arriving at airports in the U.S. dropped by 1.3%. On June 26, 2017, the second ban dropped the inbound visitors again by 2.8%. According to experts, European interest in visiting the U.S. fell 12% as a result of the Trump slump.
“The confusing and convoluted travel bans have done nothing but worsen the country’s reputation around the world,” said American travel expert Lee Abbamonte, who believes that there should be a screening process, but now the situation is stringent and confusing for many international citizens.
Even a small percentage drop leads to a considerable loss when translated into a dollar amount. SelectUSA, an international trade analyst firm, reported that in 2016, the U.S. travel and tourism industry supported about 7.6 million jobs and generated over $1.5-trillion economic output. That accounts for 2.7% of overall GDP.
Over the first three months of Trump’s presidency, about 697,791 fewer international tourists visited the U.S. than usual, down 4.2% to 15.8 million people, as per the data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That represents a $2.7-billion drop in spending, according to Tourism Economics.
Tourism is the seventh-largest employer in the U.S.; around one in nine jobs depends on the tourism sector. The Trump slump has severely affected the tourism sector, leading to job losses and the decline of the U.S. Economy. Tourism Economics forecasted a total loss of $2.7 billion in the months after Trump took control.
In the first five months of 2017, foreign arrivals to the U.S dropped by 2.8%, or nearly one million people. Many U.S cities are facing financial losses as a result of the decline in U.S. tourism revenue. Here is the list of 15 cities that have faced huge financial loss during Trump’s rule:
- Washington, D.C.
- New Orleans
- San Francisco
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
Ultimately, the U.S.’ tourism decline is a problem. The U.S. tourist sector is at risk of joining the list of lagging sectors in the U.S. economy as visitors instead choose to visit destinations with easier visa policies.
“America is missing out on a tourism boom,” CNN, January 16, 2018.
“Spain to overtake US in tourism rankings as ‘Trump slump’ continues,” The Telegraph, January 16, 2018.
“Tourism in the US has drastically declined since Trump was elected,” Business Insider, May 24, 2017.
“Donald Trump causes US tourism to drop drastically,” Harper’s Bazaar, May 26, 2017.
“U.S. Economy Losing Billions As ‘Trump Slump’ Continues In Tourism Sector,” Forbes, October12, 2017.
“15 U.S. Cities Losing Millions in Tourism Business Under Donald Trump,” The Cheat Sheet, December 28, 2017.