It’s only a few weeks old but it already has a moniker — The Trump Slump — although a slowdown in tourism dollars was already evident before the administration’s immigration policies, which put a real damper on foreigners’ desire to travel to the United States.
A forecast issued yesterday by NYC & Company, the Big Apple’s tourism and marketing arm, “projects tourists visiting the city from abroad will plummet by an estimated 300,000 in 2017 due to the president’s ‘recent travel ban and related rhetoric,’” Michael Gartland reports for the New York Post.
“Fred Dixon, the chief executive of NYC & Company, said Trump’s statements and actions had changed perceptions about the hospitality of the United States just as prospective tourists are making vacation plans for 2017,” the New York Times’ Patrick McGeehan writes.
“The Europeans start coming to New York around Easter and continue through summer,” Dixon tells McGeehan. “That’s when you’ll see the rhetoric out of Washington really having an impact on travel.”
On the positive front, NYC & Company projects that “the number of tourists coming from other parts of the U.S. will remain strong … and is projected to hit 49.3 million visitors this year,” the Post’s Gartland writes.
New York is not alone in its bleak outlook for travel from abroad.
“Data from travel search site Kayak showed interest in travel to the U.S. from the U.K. had ‘fallen of a cliff,’ the site said in a press release,” Zlata Rodionova reports forThe Independent. “Searches for flights to Tampa and Orlando declined 58%, while searches for Miami were down 52% when compared to last year. Searches for San Diego dropped by 43%, Las Vegas by 36% and Los Angeles 32%.”
And headlines in the foreign press aren't likely to encourage folks to get on Kayak looking for a bargain rate at the Trump International Hotel in D.C.
“Trump's America is great for holidays — if you enjoy vigorous frisking by men in uniform,” reads one in The Guardian.
“A study by Hopper, a market research firm, found there has been a 17% decrease in flight searches from international origins to the U.S. since Trump became president. … This ‘Trump Slump’ is not very surprising: his primary focus since taking office has been on kicking people out of the U.S. and keeping them out,” The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi writes.
The number of tourists to the U.S. set a new record last year, but spending was already decelerating before the presidential election, Dan Peltier notes for Skift.com.
“The $247.1 billion international travelers spent in the U.S. last year is a 0.4% increase from the $246.2 billion they spent in 2015, according to data from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office,” Peltier reports. “This growth comes despite the stagnating growth of international arrivals to the U.S. throughout 2016, and as international visitors spent more than $2 billion less on airfares in 2016 than they did the year before (a 5.9% decrease).” The dollar was also strong against foreign currencies, he points out.
“We rarely think of tourism as something related to U.S. trade, but we should: Inbound tourism to the U.S. is an export — and outbound tourism from the U.S. is an import,” writes Daniel Gross for Slate.
“In 2015, there were 78 million international arrivals to the U.S. and 74 million American departures (most of the departures are cross-border jaunts to Mexico and Canada). In the first seven months of 2016, there were 42.8 million arrivals. The upshot: America has a huge trade surplus in tourism. Travel and tourism account for about one-tenth of all exports, and America is the world’s leading export of international tourism and travel.”
Apparently, it’s not just touristy destinations, such as Graceland and the ferryboat to the Statue of Liberty, that will suffer declining revenues. A week after Trump's travel ban was announced, The Global Business Association polled its U.S. and European members to assess its potential impact.
“In Europe, nearly half of travel professionals reported expectations for their company to reduce business travel over the next three months and 31% of U.S. respondents agreed,” Mike McCormick posted on the TGBA blog.
“We say it time and again. Business travel drives lasting business growth and is a leading indicator for jobs and the economy at large,” McCormack wrote Feb. 9. “Upholding the travel ban will clearly cause a rippling effect through the travel industry, ultimately hurting the economy.”
On the positive side, as the President has reminded us, the national debt was down last month — even if it’s a “meaningless statistic” — and the stock market is up nearly $3 trillion since the election — surely good news for coal miners looking to take the family to Disney World this summer.