President Trump’s temporary travel ban and an inhospitable political climate could punch an $18 billion hole in U.S. tourism by international visitors over the next two years, travel analysts predict.
Foreign tourism is a $250 billion-a-year business in the United States, and Trump’s original and revised executive orders temporarily banning travel from majority Muslim countries — put on hold by federal courts — have dampened interest worldwide in visiting a country viewed as less welcoming to overseas visitors, according to the travel analysts.
“The U.S. has put an unwelcome mat at our front door,” said Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, which conducts travel research.
Precipitous declines in airline bookings followed the Jan. 27 and March 6 travel ban announcements, and hotels reported less traffic in February.
About 4.3 million fewer international travelers will visit the U.S. this year because of the bans, a revenue loss of $7.4 billion, according to Tourism Economics of Wayne, Pa. Another 6.3 million visitors and $10.8 billion that they would have spent will be lost in 2018, it estimated.
“‘America first’ rhetoric, which was pronounced during the campaign and Trump’s inauguration speech, is finding consistent expression in policy,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics. “On multiple fronts — diplomacy, trade, border control, visa policy — international markets are receiving a message that America is no longer a welcoming destination.”
The expected decline in international tourism marks a reversal from recent years, when foreign visitors rose to 77 million in 2016, from 54 million in 2009, said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which represents airlines, hotels and destination resorts. He said each visitor spends an average of $4,300 over 18 days.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Bart Jansen