Last year there was a lot of talk about Donald Trump and his policies having a negative impact on one of America’s biggest industries: tourism. Tourism boards and groups were predicting severe downturns in inbound U.S. travel due to Trump’s proposed travel ban and constant “America First” rhetoric. Well, it’s a year later and the numbers for 2017 seem to have proven the tourism industries fears correct.
According to a report by NBC News, the U.S. has seen a four percent decline in travel and a 3.3 percent decline in overall travel spending, meaning a loss of $4.6 billion for the US and 40,000 lost jobs. We were the second most popular destination in the world after France. Now, we’ve fallen to third with Spain usurping the #2 spot. For comparison’s sake, after President Obama’s re-taking the oath in 2013, there was a 6.4 percent increase in travel to the U.S.
There’s plenty of reasons to be concerned here. The U.S. travel industry is a juggernaut. Tourism brings in $2.1 trillion annually to the United States. That number is five times what the exportation of cars, agriculture, and petroleum industries add to the US economy. Given how much coverage oil prices and the car industry gets for every hiccup, it’s kind of baffling this isn’t a bigger story.
The New York Times and NBC News cite major declines in tourists from Mexico and Europe especially. Reports show that twice as many Mexicans (over 60 percent) view American negatively now compared to just one year ago. For Europeans, safety seems to be the biggest concern with mounting and unrelenting “gun violence and political chaos” keeping people away. There’s also been a marked decline in tourism from Muslims who see the stiffening of border and immigration policies as too much to even bother with.
While job data shows the U.S. is adding jobs, that’s largely due to the actions of the previous administration going unchanged (for the most part). What we’re seeing here is the actions of the current administration starting to take its toll out of the coffers of restaurants, tour operators, bars, and the web of other industries that benefit from robust tourism. People will continue to lose jobs, and businesses could close. And, unless there are some unlikely changes in the political situation, this may be a long-term problem.
(via NBC News)